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Leading UK businesses attend event organised by Mayor’s Office and IOHR to drive employment of refugees

02 June 2018

The International Observatory of Human Rights partnered with the Greater London Authority to bring together more than twenty-five business leaders, public sector policy makers, refugees and non-governmental organisations to discuss how to include more refugees in the UK workplace. 

Spearheaded by Nicola Marvin, Senior Project Officer for Resettlement of Syrian Refugees at the GLA and Valerie Peay, the Director of IOHR, the event invoked new ideas and pathways to highlight the benefits for hiring and training refugees.  


After a stirring welcome from Julia Slay, Assistant Director for Communities and Social Policy, the panellists from Starbucks, The Refugee Council, Linklaters LLP and Groundworks took centre stage and shared their experiences in hiring and working with refugees, the success stories and challenges that must be overcome. 

“The government needs to help change the narrative,” said Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of The Refugee Council. 

 Following the business breakfast and three panels, the attendees came together in the Council chamber in the heart of City Hall to participate in a workshop, split between businesses, NGOs and public policy makers, to identify the challenges both refugees and business are facing in engaging with each other. 

IOHR hearing the global experiences of Starbucks’ Anita Desai and Danny Cowan 

Some of the key learnings included the need for the Home Office to provide a clearer and simpler set of processes for both refugees and business to follow. Many of the experts agreed that there should be a large scale consolidated approach to match the skills of the refugees to the roles available.  

“With less paperwork the process of employing refugees could streamlined,” one leading practitioner announced during the roundtable discussions. 

City Hall Council Chamber – Workshop session

IOHR-TV correspondent interviewed several participants and refugees to capture their experiences and key learnings—-videos shared on the organisation’s social media platforms. 

“This event is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue to influence and rapidly drive the employment of more refugees to encompass the spirit of our two campaigns dedicated to expansion of refugee sponsorship and more employment of refugees—–#WorkWellRefugees  #BeARefugeeSopnsor,” commented IOHR Director Valerie Peay 

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