Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky speaks with CNN's Erin Burnett

Opinion: American companies pledge to hire refugees. Others should follow

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“They were shooting us in the back…telling us to stop. But we didn’t stop,” Kabir told us. He and his family were among the lucky ones – they are four of more than 76,000 Afghans who were evacuated to the United States after the fall of Kabul last year.

Resettlement agencies have undertaken Herculean efforts to help Afghans like Kabir and his family find housing, enroll children in school and provide English language training. They were joined by local churches, community groups and families from Texas to California to Virginia, opening their arms in inspiring ways to their new neighbors.

But the most important step in a refugee’s journey is getting a job, and yet many of them still struggle to do so. They might lack English proficiency; have resumes with work experiences, certifications, or company names that are unfamiliar to hiring personnel; or face transportation difficulties due to the fact that they do not have a driver’s license. Companies need to step up their efforts to reduce barriers to work for Afghans (and other refugees) – both to provide decent jobs and to offer a ladder from entry-level work to jobs that reflect their backgrounds and backgrounds. qualifications.

Ultimately, the refugees want a helping hand, not a handout. Obtaining decent work is when refugees find the dignity to support themselves and their families, and when they can begin to put down roots in their new community.

Fortunately, since the beginning of this year, the situation has improved, with companies embarking on special efforts to hire refugees. At Tent, a global nonprofit focused on integrating refugees into the economy and their new communities, we’ve recruited more than 100 leading companies to reduce the barriers refugees face trying to enter the world. American labor market. Pfizer has created a dedicated portal for refugees from all walks of life to ensure they don’t overlook resumes from qualified candidates. Tyson Foods has hired Dari and Pashto interpreters at select sites to assist Afghan refugee employees. And Oneida Nation Enterprises has arranged shuttles for Afghans without transportation so they can get to and from work.

Thanks to efforts like these, many thousands of Afghans have now found decent jobs in the United States, including in Kabir. On April 11, he started as a purchasing associate at Pfizer. It’s a new start for Kabir. As he says, “Now I’m rebuilding my life from ground zero.”

While the tight labor market has helped open up employers to other sources of talent, many business leaders say they have also been impressed by the courage and resilience of the refugees. Companies are also seeing firsthand that hiring refugees is a good business decision. Data shows that refugees stay with businesses longer, companies that hire refugees are more attractive employers across the board, and consumers are more likely to buy from brands that hire refugees.

A year later, we estimate that more than half of Afghan refugees seeking employment have found employment; but that means there is still a lot of work to do. Many more companies need to step up to hire Afghan refugees, making modest investments to overcome language, transportation and other barriers. And while entry-level jobs in sectors such as hospitality, catering and retail are absolutely essential to providing refugees with the opportunity to earn a living, improve their English and learn the skills not skills needed to navigate the American workplace, these jobs should be the beginning, not the end of their professional journey. Through mentorship, training and career advancement opportunities, companies must do more to help Afghans move into jobs that make the most of their skills.

Congress also has a huge role to play. It should urgently pass the Afghan Adjustment Act, which would offer Afghan evacuees a streamlined path to permanent status in the United States. Without this legislation, many Afghans will have to apply for asylum on an individual basis – a daunting task given that many have had to destroy the very documents that could prove their claims. Moreover, with an asylum backlog of nearly 700,000 applications, thousands of Afghans could be left in a prolonged vacuum for years, jeopardizing their ability to maintain continued legal employment.

Despite everything that has happened, Kabir thanks fate for bringing him to America. We can’t let him down.

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