How Employers Can Advocate for Refugees

Refugee Welcome

Window sticker from burlesquedesign.com

How to use Refugee Welcome window stickers to engage employers in advocating for refugees NOW.

We already know that employers make the best advocates in our job development efforts.  They can – and do – speak out about the value of refugee employees and support our work in many ways that go far beyond “just” hiring.  Employers are valuable allies and partners in our work.

As the conversation about refugees, Syrians and public safety in the U.S. continues, it is even more important to engage employer allies to communicate the value refugees bring to our communities.

Refugee Welcome stickers

The Refugee Welcome sticker among other endorsements in a Minneapolis, MN store window.

Here is one exciting new resource that can help:  Window stickers that businesses and other allies can put in their store front. This is a common practice among all kinds of businesses to add credibility and advertise affiliations.

Miles Davis, one of the owners of Burlesque of North America, the company that prints the stickers explained the employer perspective very well.  He says,

From the perspective of a business owner, quite simply, posters are huge. It can be a big, overwhelming statement. We just want something a little more subtle. You know when you walk into a shop and you see a small, little credit card sign on their window, like, “Hey, we accept Visa”? We just thought it would be a nice, small gesture that somebody can do without having to make a giant, big show out of it. Something subtle and simple and a little understated.

The stickers were designed by Veda Partalo, who came to the U.S. years ago as a Bosnian refugee.  Click here to read more about this excellent idea and order your stickers (20 for $5) here.

Advice from our Network for Talking to Employers About Using Refugee Welcome Stickers

Developing strong existing employer relationships will pay off when asking them to make their support for refugees public with a window sticker.  Higher’s Daniel Wilkinson wouldn’t have wasted an ask like this with new employers when he was a Job Developer in Philadelphia.  It’s more important to develop relationships, place qualified clients and build trust first.  Asking employers unfamiliar with refugee employment services to display a sticker might work, but it would be just one more charity asking for support.  That’s not job development.

sticker pic

Photo Credit: Haley Ryan and Burlesque of North America

Carol Tucker, Job Developer at Lutheran Family Services Nebraska (LFSNeb) says she would be selective in offering the stickers to strong partners, either in person or in an email.  She cautions against exerting strong pressure since there are many legal reasons why employers might prefer to keep their hiring practices confidential. LFSNeb partners with several businesses that operate fleets of delivery vehicles and might even want to display the stickers as they drive around town.

Bonni Cutler, Employment Manager at Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego (CCDSD) and Higher Peer Advisor, presents candidates to employers without emphasizing their refugee background.  She sells them on the benefits to employers, so she hadn’t thought about this kind of strategy before.  In her experience, small businesses are often more open to this kind of ask and can make decisions without consulting corporate policies or decision-makers.  CCDSD partners with many refugee and immigrant-owned markets that she believes would be happy to add Refugee Welcome stickers to their storefront.

Several employment professionals in Texas are excited about how they can use the stickers to mobilize employers to help combat negative publicity and sentiment. They believe employer partners will still be willing to consider the idea.  In States where refugees are facing increased suspicion and hostility, the stickers could help identify safe spaces for refugees and help counter increased fear among refugees that is affecting their daily routines.  Seeing these stickers – even on the front door of your agency or other common service locations could be helpful.  Large corporate partners could display the stickers in employee break rooms and the human resource office to show support and reinforce a culture of diversity and teamwork.

Thanks to Kim Toft with Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) for spotting this great idea.  Get in touch at information@higheradvantage.org with additional ways Higher can help you bring employer advocates into efforts to combat negative publicity and escalated fear of refugees and immigrants.

 

 

 

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  1. THIS IS AWESOME

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