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How are companies responding to the refugee crisis in Europe?

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is collecting company statements in response to the refugee crisis.

As of 16 October 2015, we have received statements from:

  1. Audi (part of Volkswagen)
  2. Aviva
  3. Bosch
  4. BMW
  5. Daimler
  6. Deutsche Telekom
  7. E.ON
  8. FC Bayern
  9. OMV
  10. SAP
  11. ThyssenKrupp
  12. Vodafone
  13. Volkswagen
  14. Unilever

Other companies, including H&M and Tesco have shared information about donations by their companies or company foundations in response to the crisis.

To share your company's statement on this page, please contact Eniko Horvath ([email protected]). 

Companies are also invited to share their statements via UN Global Compact's & UNHCR's Business Action Pledge in response to the refugee crisis.  Statements received through this call are also highlighted below from:

  1. Bayer & Bayer Foundations
  2. BBVA
  3. Cyber-Wear Heidelberg
  4. Evonik Industries
  5. GlaxoSmithKline
  6. MAN Group
  7. Nestlé
  8. Novartis
  9. Novo Nordisk
  10. RWE
  11. Sanofi
  12. Global Compact Network Brazil
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16 February 2016

36 German companies launch initiative to promote integration of refugees into society & labour market

Author: Thyssenkrupp

"'We-together' German industry integration initiative", 10 Feb 2016

Under an initiative entitled “We-together”…36 German companies have joined together to promote the integration of refugees. The companies’ wide-ranging integration projects can be seen together for the first time at  http://www.wir-zusammen.de. The website is designed to create transparency and provide orientation…[I]t offers practical examples to motivate other companies to actively contribute to the integration of refugees…As co-initiator of “We-together” thyssenkrupp is contributing with its “we help” program. Over the next two years the Group is creating an additional 150 apprenticeship places, 230 internships, and further skilled jobs for refugees at various Group companies in Germany. “Jobs give people the chance to build a life for themselves in Germany…It’s a long-term initiative to help integrate refugees into society and the labor market,” says thyssenkrupp CEO Dr. Heinrich Hiesinger. Around 50 refugees now have contracts with thyssenkrupp and/or have already started work…[M]embers of the network carry out independent integration projects and underpin them with dedicated sponsorships…

Read the full post here

20 October 2015

Commentary: How Can Companies Support Refugees in Europe?

Author: Eniko Horvath, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

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.

Read the full post here

16 October 2015

Unilever's response

Author: Unilever

As the crisis in the Middle East continues to escalate, we encourage the wider international community to support those displaced by violence and insecurity.

Over 500,000 refugees have arrived in Europe in 2015[1], and nearly 60million[2] people are displaced by violence globally. Governments, companies and civil society organisations are struggling to find the resources to respond to the needs of refugees.

Unilever have responded to the refugees arriving in Europe by launching an employee matched funding campaign and donating products valued at €280,000. Prior to this, at the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, Unilever supported Save the Children in Jordan with funds, products and expertise valued at €650,000 to help rehabilitate refugees.

Whilst companies can offer significant support, we recognise that sustainable solutions require co-ordination between all sectors of society. One route forward is through employment opportunities.

Unilever, as a global organisation, recognises the importance of diversity to drive growth. We have learnt that bringing cultures together drives innovation and is critical to our success.

Because of the need for sustainable solutions and the value that bringing cultures together creates, we believe that the international community should be working together to identify ways for refugees to enter the formal labour market. Not only will this reduce demands on welfare systems and potential abuses of refugees, it will support economic growth and integration.



15 October 2015

Audi's response

Author: Audi

Audi is moving quickly to help: the carmaker has made one million euros in emergency aid available for refugees. The company is using the funds to support aid initiatives at its production sites in Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm, Brussels and Győr. Through the Audi Volunteers (“Audi Ehrensache”) initiative, employees can suggest regional projects they would like to implement in cooperation with charitable organizations. The Corporate Responsibility committees at each site decide how to distribute the funds.

Currently, we are in the process of evaluating and selecting the projects suggested for financial support. Thanks to many dedicated Audi employees we continuously receive new projects. Some of these are already completed, others are still on their way, aiming to provide medium- and long-term help for those refugees who will stay in Europe. Audi volunteers recently renovated homes for underage migrants, organized excursions for refugee children or language courses for refugees, for example.

The automobile manufacturer is also considering ways to offer refugees long term job prospects. The goal is to design the efforts to be both targeted and sustainable. Intensive discussions for this are currently underway.

Company response
10 October 2015

E.ON response

Author: E.ON

With regard to the issue of refugees, the concern lies primarily with the immediate protection from persecution and human solidarity. E.ON has committed itself publicly to this. We want people, who are in distress, to receive help. As a company, we are making a direct a direct contribution by providing some administrative buildings in Germany for the accommodation of refugees. In addition, we are in talks with the authorities about the conditions under which refugees can be integrated for work or education.

10 October 2015

Volkswagen response

Author: Volkswagen

The reception and integration of refugees in Germany is an immense common task, to which the Volkswagen Group and its employees participate with commitment and conviction. For Volkswagen and its employees it is part of their social responsibility at the core of our corporate culture. To foster this commitment, the Volkswagen Group has created www.vwag-hilft.de as a corresponding website.

7 October 2015

OMV response

Author: OMV

OMV sets an example in terms of sustainability and responding to the current refugee situation, which affects Europe and especially Austria. With a donation of EUR 250,000, the company supports the ORF campaign "Helfen. Wie wir. ", which was created in collaboration with Caritas, Diakonie, Hilfswerk, Samariterbund, Red Cross and Volkshilfe. The funds will be transferred to the platform and thus distributed to the participating NGOs to ensure assistance for where it is currenlty most needed. OMV makes the donation on behalf of all our employees, who come from 60 nations and are deeply moved by the events - around 10 EUR per employee worldwide have been raised. For many of them, it is important to support people on the run, which is why some are already involved in their spare time to provide support to the refugees. To support further engagement, OMV has also launched its own internal platform. These links those who want to help with the appropriate initiatives. By that, an additional multiplying effect is created and exchange on the subject is promoted. www.omv.com

Company response
6 October 2015

Aviva response

Author: Aviva

As a business that’s over 300 years old we know we depend on vibrant and diverse communities for our customers, our employees, our supply chain and our investors. At the UN Sustainable Development Goals Summit 2015 AvivaGroup CEO Mark Wilson called for the UN, member states, civil society and business to work together to achieve the new global goals. If the goals are to be a reality we must acknowledge that it is in all our interests to respond with genuine, internationally co-ordinated care, to the desperate families risking their lives to flee war and persecution, and to mitigate the causes of this situation.

Company response
6 October 2015

FC Bayern response

Author: FC Bayern

"FC Bayern sees it as a social responsibility to help the suffering refugees - children , women and men - to support them and to accompany them as they arrive in Germany," says Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of Bayern Munich.

Company response
5 October 2015

SAP response

Author: SAP

„To master the refugee crisis in Germany, we all need to act -- politics, society as well as the economy. As IT company, SAP is convinced, that the use of IT can add a valuable contribution. Further, financial help and education fostering integration play an instrumental role. We assume the responsibility to offer support in all three areas following an overarching approach,” says Stefan Ries, Chief Human Resources Officer at SAP.