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20 Okt 2015

Eniko Horvath, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Commentary: How Can Companies Support Refugees in Europe?

To date, only eight companies have submitted pledges to act in response to a call by the UN Refugee Agency and the UN Global Compact, primarily referring to donations as their key response to the crisis. Donations are very welcome, but they short-change the broader positive impact businesses can have on this issue.  In the past weeks, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre reached out to 35 companies for statements in support of a more welcoming environment for refugees. 15 have shared their positions. Based on these statements and other relevant actions, a few clear paths emerge on how companies can go beyond one-time donations to support refugees: 

1. Mobilising core business [examples from BMW, Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, SAP, Total, Vodafone]

2. Calling for respectful societal and governmental action [examples from Aviva, SAP, Unilever, German & French industry associations]

3. Ensuring business does not support abuses through products, services & investments [examples from HESTA, Mutanox]

It is time for more companies to raise their voice in the refugee debate - as employers, investors, product and service providers, and above all, as powerful economic and societal actors. A more compassionate welcome for refugees is not only the right response to support, it also makes business sense.

Part of the following timelines

Europe refugee crisis: Businesses take steps to offer support while others are accused of contributing to anti-refugee sentiment

How are companies responding to the refugee crisis in Europe?