Differentiated Experiences and Exploratory Challenges of Refugee Workplace Integration
Deen, J.P. van der
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Despite growing importance of Corporate Social Responsibility across various disciplines and industries, its relevance and experiences regarding refugee workplace integration has been underexplored. Knowing that there is a growing need for empirical field data from welcoming businesses promoting refugee career entry, this research aims to gain insight into the differentiated experiences and explanatory challenges of refugee workplace integration by a multi-scalar inquiry under the umbrella of the ‘Amsterdam approach for Status Holders’ within the municipality of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. By means of a mixed-method approach, this study consists of quantitative and qualitative data with the ambition of contrasting the multi-dimensional experiences and challenges of refugee workplace integration. Therefore, this study has elaborated on the Amsterdam approach (institutional-level), with a main focus on CSR enterprises (organizational-level) and refugees (individual-level). The diversity of methodological approaches, including exploratory conversations, an online descriptive survey, a focus group discussion, and in-depth interviews, have supported in understanding differentiated experiences and challenges in respect to refugee workplace integration under the Amsterdam approach. Initiatives like the Amsterdam approach are of high importance to creating a social safety net of welcoming businesses for promoting refugee workplace integration. Especially CSR enterprises have indicated to embrace a potential character for such social impact. Correspondingly, status holders experienced to feel more integrated on the workplaces of CSR enterprises cooperating with the Amsterdam approach, compared to previously work experiences at non-CSR enterprises within the Netherlands. Nonetheless, the discussed findings support ongoing debate regarding refugee workplace integration within the institutional- and organizational level by showing the subtle ways that imbalanced power relations (re)produce integration as a one-way process without continuous efforts from both sides. Such discursive positionings have been fueled with a discourse of lack surrounding status holders, with ‘shortcomings’ like fluency and assertiveness being the main drivers of this normalized discourse of challenges regarding refugee workplace integration. Although, language proficiency has been addressed as major challenge in supporting integration on the workplaces, this can also be related to inadequate assistance and implementation of supportive instruments by the Amsterdam approach. Regarding the growing urgency for refugee integration, this study has shared a critical discussion concerning the Amsterdam approach, followed by policy and future research recommendations to encourage sustainable refugee workplace integration.