WeWork pairs refugees with work and mentors
- WeWork, the coworking office company, has made a commitment to hire, train and mentor refugees from around the world, Fast Company reports. The company plans to hire a total of 1,500 refugees over the next five years. The project began last year, when staffers in the New York location reached out to the International Refugee Committee, asking if they could help place their constituents in jobs.
- Within six months, New York hired 50 employees, and the program began spreading: In Chicago and Boston the company extended its reach. The popularity of the program inspired the company to set a larger goal of 1,500 refugees in the coming five years. The program, which will include English language training, will be expanding to its U.K. locations.
- With 150 employees from 25 countries hired so far, the company is even working with one of its members to upskill refugees, offering coding classes. WeWork said it hopes to encourage all 50,000 of its member workers to consider candidates from non-traditional populations to mentor and hire. The program is similar to its recent commitment to hire 1,500 veterans.
The WeWork program is doing more than providing opportunity for refugees; the program boasts an 80% retention rate. Mentor programs pair those in the coding program to tech and non-tech team members. Career development can provide a strong boost for retention in any population.
For refugees, mentoring programs could be a lifeline to transitioning to meaningful, lifelong employment in their adopted countries. There's a benefit for employers too. For employers looking to increase diversity in their workforce, refugees may be a sound and productive applicant source.
The applicant-driven market continues to put pressure on businesses, with unemployment rates continuing a downward trend. And some employers are reporting turnover rates of up to 40%. With retail hiring up, and growth in IT stagnating, sourcing candidates with a strong incentive to find meaningful work and stay on the job is a win-win proposition.