Refugees enhance our workplace and society

ByJoanne Lockwood

Refugees enhance our workplace and society

It cannot escape any of us in regard to the tragic and inhumane scenes unfolding in Ukraine right now from the war instigated by Russia’s President Putin. The loss of life, the loss of culture, and people in their millions being displaced from their homes and country.

The latest International Displacement Report issued by International Organization for Migration based in Geneva is currently estimating that 7.1 million people have been affected.

As a country, quite rightly we are opening our arms to welcome Ukrainian refugees into our homes and society. Working together to raise money and ship aid to those people in need. We have people volunteering to go out to the region to fight or to supplement the relief effort.

Our Government has passed legislation to allow visa processes to be streamlined to remove much of the bureaucracy in our immigration process. As a society we are even demanding our Government works harder to speed up these processes.

All of this is admirable, and I commend the efforts by all.

As a society, where were we with other recent wars – Libya, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Northern Mozambique, the Tigray region of Ethiopia to name but a few.

The societal horror of allowing refugees to enter our country by people fleeing across Europe arriving in boats, backs of lorries, stowing away in the undercarriage of planes – cries of “send them back”, “block the ports”, “tell the French to do more to stop these people arriving at our shores”

Some of this came from the motivation behind Brexit to “Take back control” – “block our boards” was the cry.

So why now? Do we have a view that some refugees are good refugees and worthy of our support, whilst others are less desirable?

Do we have good immigrants and bad immigrants?

It wasn’t so long ago that our society was in panic over the possible admission of Turkey into the European Union with the potential for their citizens to come to our country. We have seen people from Eastern Europe as cheap labour but not long-term residents.

I say we have double standards – affinity or similarity bias, fuelled by the media and our abhorrence of anything Russian or harking back to the Soviet Union Cold War days.

Is it because the Ukrainian people are largely white, drive BMWs, wear Nike and have Facebook and Netflix? Do we relate to them as European cousins?

We see this played out in our workplace on many levels. How we see people, often through the lens of our own privilege, the judgments we form that can often deny people employment, promotion or opportunities through the impact of our biases.

So, let me ask you again – are we holistic in our inclusion ethos, as an individual, as a workplace or society – or are we biased and only include people we deem meet our own acceptable standards?

Our society and culture are enriched by the diversity of thought stemming from different cultures. Refugees and other marginalised communities enhance our workplace and society, not diminish them.

#istandwithukraine and other people being displaced around the world due to war or persecution for their beliefs.

Joanne Lockwood (she/her), an inclusion and belonging specialist with SEE Change Happen, is a guest writer on behalf of s1jobs

Originally published here ->

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About the author

Joanne Lockwood administrator

SEE Change Happen: Transgender Awareness & Inclusion