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A new era of welcome in refugee resettlement 


A call for change

Collaboration that is changing lives 

What are we going to do? How can we help? 

That’s what our people—hundreds of military veterans among them—asked Accenture leadership in August 2021. At the time, the US military evacuation from Afghanistan was making headlines, and footage of overcrowded runways and airplanes commanded global attention. But the withdrawal wasn’t the only news: With the launch of Operation Allies Welcome, the White House committed to resettling some 88,500 Afghan people in communities around the United States. 

Following a tradition of our people helping those in need, Accenture was one of the first companies to mobilize in support of the refugees and to join a new national initiative called Welcome.US, sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Welcome.US formed a robust coalition to aid newcomers seeking refuge in the United States, with more than 800 non-governmental organizations and businesses, as well as leaders of diverse faiths, political parties and backgrounds. 

Accenture committed $2.5 million in cash and pro-bono services to support welcoming our Afghan allies -  driven by Welcome.US, International Rescue Committee (IRC) and other refugee response organizations.  Julie Sweet, Accenture Chair and CEO, recognized that while corporate pledges are important, more could be done to help resettlement agencies and newcomers.

“Welcome.US invites businesses of all sizes to join together to meet our new neighbors’ pressing needs, including housing, jobs, skilling and legal services,” said Sweet. “Accenture has worked in refugee aid for a decade, so we are building on our experience to help create scalable, repeatable solutions to improve our country’s resettlement system.”

Seizing the opportunity to step up as change makers, we organized a diverse team of Accenture people—including refugees, immigrants, and veterans—to partner with Welcome.US. To make a meaningful impact—addressing the most critical needs of the newly arriving refugees while also systematically improving the country’s resettlement system—the team brought Accenture’s breadth of resources to bear, from our people to our services to our ecosystem partner relationships.

We have learned that companies can make a greater impact in our communities when we share resources and learnings.

– Julie Sweet, Accenture Chair and CEO

When tech meets human ingenuity

Tech solutions with a human touch

“We are still alive. We are safe.”  
—One Afghan refugee and father, to his daughters following their evacuation from Kabul. 
Getting out of a conflict zone is priority number one for refugees, but that journey to safety, and resettling in a new community can be difficult and traumatic. Welcome.US set out to help from the very beginning of the process, providing refugees with flights, winter clothes, food, temporary and permanent housing, and other survival essentials. 

Then, as resettlement agencies began moving refugees out of military bases and into permanent accommodation, our Accenture team led strategy and experience design sessions to help create a new digital platform to facilitate business-to-business in-kind donations. The newly launched Welcome Exchange became a go-to resource for resettlement agencies and community organizations to request critical supplies for arriving families—and to help turn houses into homes. The service offered everything from everyday items like mattresses and diapers to digital economy must-haves such as laptop computers and mobile phones.

We also joined forces with Amazon and Welcome.US to streamline the process of furnishing homes. Together, we launched a pilot program across five US cities that bundled home-setup essentials packages and enabled just-in-time delivery – easing the burden on resettlement organizations so they could focus on helping those in need.

After settling in their new homes, many refugees will need to find employment, so Accenture sought to help eligible newcomers secure jobs commensurate with their experience. Following the Atlanta Hiring Fair co-hosted by Accenture and Welcome.US in July 2022, we launched a local hiring consortium to support the employment needs of the newcomer community. Accenture continues to convene the Atlanta group and has provided participating companies direct access to job-seeking newcomers, peer companies, best practices and supporting community partners. This consortium has since been named the "Talent Table" and its hiring strategy will be replicated in other cities around the US, including Seattle and Washington, DC.

We also helped establish the Welcome.US Refugee Hiring and Training Working Group to facilitate the sharing of best practices for hiring, onboarding, training, upskilling and other ways to create supportive workplaces for refugee talent across a group of more than 120 public, private and non-profit organizations. Along the way, we hired more than 39 Afghan refugees to full-time positions at Accenture and continue to support other companies to recruit newcomers to fill openings.

This became more than just another project – it became personal! People from across Accenture – including Chair and CEO Julie Sweet – stepped forward to volunteer and contribute to the cause. Members of our military and interfaith employee resource groups (ERGs) joined hands with Accenture employees in cities across America to donate and assemble goods for refugees, set up apartments and homes, and enjoy meals with newcomers. To date, nearly 700 Accenture people have donated more than 2,500 hours across 34 refugee support events, creating new memories and setting the foundation for lifelong friendships, too.

A valuable difference

Strength in numbers, empathy in action

We can all make a difference in supporting refugees.
With the news in early 2022 that the US would welcome another 100,000 people fleeing the war in Ukraine (in addition to 125,000 refugees of other nationalities), it became clear that resettlement agencies needed even more community and private-sector support.

To reach as many Americans and refugee advocates as possible, our creative marketing team at Droga5 helped Welcome.US develop campaigns to win hearts and minds under the banner “A million acts of welcome.” The campaign goal was to inspire everyday Americans to support—and even sponsor—refugee families in their communities. One spot, “Be a Rainbow. Be a Welcomer,” featured the timeless words of Dr. Maya Angelou, inviting everyone to help those seeking refuge to find it. The video ad aired during high profile events, such as the 2022 Winter Olympics.

To mobilize new direct private-sector support for Welcome.US initiatives—and to maintain that support into the future—Accenture Chair and CEO Julie Sweet, together with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Welcome.US, co-founded the Welcome.US CEO Council, a network of CEOs that has contributed more than $179 million in pro-bono, in-kind and financial support for these key priorities for refugee resettlement. Today, the Council comprises the CEOs of 38 member companies, whose work supporting the cause continues.

Knowing that attaining legal status is a top and ongoing need for many families seeking refuge, and that getting the right legal support is key to making this a reality,  Accenture and a coalition of partners, including multinational law firm Gibson Dunn, joined the Welcome.US Legal Alliance (WLA). The purpose of the WLA is to expand the capacity of legal support available to refugees and their families by mobilizing legal and non-legal volunteers. Across dozens of events, our volunteers have provided pro bono assistance and counseled more than 600 applicants with their asylum applications.

The evacuations from Afghanistan and the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine have turned the eyes of the world to the urgent needs of refugees. Accenture has been deeply honored to be a part of this unprecedented collaboration to help tackle the significant challenges faced by this community of newcomers.  With Welcome.US, we are accelerating and scaling private sector support for those seeking refuge and creating a culture of welcoming. And while the work is far from over, it’s proof that we’re better when communities rally together.

“As global conflicts intensify and more people are displaced, we can choose to welcome those in need of safety with dignity and open arms,” said Nazanin Ash, Welcome.US CEO. “We’re proving once again that it can be done well and done right, making it possible for all of us to embrace our full humanity."

No one chooses to be a refugee, but there is choice and intention in how communities around the world respond to these humanitarian crises

– Nazanin Ash, Welcome.US CEO