Corporate Citizenship and Refugee Inclusion

Corporate Citizenship & Refugee Inclusion

The World Refugee & Migration Council (WRMC) and Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) share a common interest in advancing the goal of a more supportive national response for refugees and migrant workers. And we believe the Canadian business sector can both be transformative in and benefit from this effort. For this reason, the WRMC and the ICC seek to share our respective strengths, experience, and resources with the goal of developing and advancing a set of CSR principles in collaboration with corporate entities that are already committed to the hiring of refugee and migrant workers, and which can be disseminated to the wider business community. 

The set of principles we develop with business leaders can then be codified into a publicly available set of “best practices” in the hiring and employment of refugees and migrant workers — a first in Canada and a huge step in creating more equitable workplaces.

There are some good examples of successful efforts to institutionalize new corporate CSR “codes of conducts” standards, which this initiative aims to build upon. For example, the guiding principles of the UN Social Compact that were developed by Harvard Professor John Ruggie who also served as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises are instructive. The principles are directed at helping to integrate the management of human rights risks into contract negotiations on investment projects in host state entities and foreign business investors. 

A related effort involving hiring practices and labor standards regarding refugees and migrant workers is desirable because a growing number of major corporations in Western countries — notably Canada, the United States and some European countries — are already formally committed to employing refugees and migrant workers in their labor force and this group of companies could serve as a good “coalition” to further institutionalize responsible hiring and employment  practices in the private sector. Accordingly, this partnership aims to promote and help institutionalize a set CSR “best practices” by developing clear hiring and employment standards and practices regarding refugees and migrant workers. Among the questions we seek to answer: 

  • What kinds of “best practices” initiatives to hire and train refugees can be implemented by the private sector without the need for governmental action, laws or regulations?
  • What are the best ways to institutionalize these practices and build them into existing ESG corporate reporting standards? Are there common principles that should inform such efforts?
  • How can refugees be employed not just in traditional sectors of the economy such as manufacturing and services but also the digital and advanced technology sectors? What are the best ways to do this?
  • At what point would it make sense to go beyond standard setting to develop a certification process for products and services produced by refugees? What would such a certification process entail?

To find out more more about this project or participate in our workshops, write us at:

Read the discussion paper by Lawrence L. Herman on Harnessing Global Private Regulation and Corporate Social Responsibility.