#RefugeesWelcome: U.S. Companies Setting the Standard for Inclusive Hiring

When the winners of the Secretary of State’s Awards for Corporate Excellence (ACE) were announced earlier this month, I was delighted to see that McDonald’s Deutschland was one of the winners of the first ever ACE award for inclusive hiring practices for hiring refugees in Germany.  This is the type of corporate leadership that makes many of our companies our best ambassadors overseas.

Today, we are witnessing the largest displacement of people since World War II.  Twenty million refugees are scattered across the globe; the Syrian conflict alone has uprooted 4.5 million people.  A crisis of this scale simply cannot be solved by one or many governments alone.  An “all hands on deck” approach is needed. The private sector has a crucial role to play -- driven not just by beneficence but by dividends. That is because many refugees I have met over the course of my work have hard skills and can have a significant positive impact once they are economically integrated in their host economies.

Syrian refugee family reads the day's edition of the local news  with special pages in Arabic for refugees, while on a train ride from their temporary accommodation facility to the central registration center for refugees and asylum seekers in Berlin. [AP Photo]

In a visit to Germany earlier this year, I had the opportunity to speak with several refugees at a refugee center in Berlin. One family shared their harrowing journey fleeing Syria over land and sea -- across 25 countries in seven days with a 16-month-old child.  The father was a mechanic in Syria; all he wanted was the dignity of a job and a paycheck to provide for his family. 

That is precisely the opportunity that McDonald’s Deutschland is providing.  Since 2015, McDonalds has hired over 900 refugees to fill positions in their 1,500 franchises in Germany, and partnered with the government of Germany to provide 20,000 language courses for refugees. 

As the Department of State’s Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs, I have spent the past nine months encouraging U.S. firms to follow in the footsteps of companies like McDonald’s and respond to the White House Call to Action for Private Sector Engagement on the Global Refugee Crisis. Launched in June, the Call to Action has attracted over 61 new commitments from the private sector in the areas of employment, education, and enablement of refugees.

During my trip to Jordan, our delegation visited ReBootKamp, an organization training Jordanians and refugees to be software engineers. [State Department Photo]

Building on the Call to Action, last month, I led a private-sector delegation of leading U.S. firms to Jordan to explore trade and investment opportunities that entail skilling, training, and hiring refugees.  Many of them came away with a clear appreciation of the opportunity to both do well and do good. 

Yet McDonald’s Deutschland CEO Holger Beeck captured the essence of the Call to Action even before the Call to Action was launched.  Back in February 2016, when Beeck announced that McDonald’s was signing onto the, “Wir Zusammen” or, “We Together” effort, he made it clear that hiring and integrating refugees into Germany presents a tremendous opportunity yet one that required “active measures."

McDonald’s Germany, the country’s largest restaurant chain, has workers from 125 countries on its staff. [Photo Courtesy McDonald's Germany]

“If we want this challenge to become a great opportunity for Germany, we have to accompany the new diversity with active measures. From our experience, speaking a common language is a foundation for a peaceful coexistence of different cultures. In our restaurants as well as in our country! With the online language courses, we want to make our contribution.”  

Congratulations to McDonald’s for its contribution and leadership and for winning this year’s ACE Award for inclusive hiring! 

About the Author: Ziad Haider serves as a Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. 

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Abdirahman A.
December 27, 2016

i heard, watch and even take it as INC for my fields of education but McDonald’srestuarant it's where i like to reach it one day to test it's delicious meals, sweets and other look it's sevices

Abdirahman A.
December 27, 2016

U S Companies made greatiful activity to halt Refugee problems.
man must get a job to start his future and life so i am saying to you good job save the people in a way of humanity.

An employee helps a Syrian refugee learn to use a mitre saw at a company in Michigan. [AP Photo]
Posted by Ziad Haider
December 22, 2016


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