Upwardly Global DEI Employer Working Group Convenes To Share Best Practices and Launch New Tools for Immigrant and Refugee Hiring

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On October 26, 2023, Upwardly Global convened its DEI Employer Working Group, made up of over 60 corporations, to continue the important work to co-create solutions to better support all vulnerable communities and to integrate immigrant, refugee, and asylee talent into our workforce. Participants learned about new digital tools to support their immigrant and refugee hiring needs and heard from experts in the field. Please find the meeting summary below.

Digital Tools for Employers

Update: Ethical AI-Powered Talent Matching

In 2023, Upwardly Global launched a partnership with HiredScore, the leading ethical and efficient talent orchestration partner to over 40% of the Fortune 100 companies, to apply first-of-its-kind technology to help remove systemic hiring biases impacting immigrants and refugees and proactively connect Upwardly Global’s talent to skill-aligned corporate jobs. By working within recruiters’ current workflows, we aim to reduce friction by creating a seamless, automated discovery of Upwardly Global talent for open roles at major companies across the U.S.

The objective of the project is to test how the HiredScore AI tool would respond to our nontraditional talent pool and if a seamless integration into Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) could increase the rate of Upwardly Global candidates surfaced for open roles. In August 2023, we launched a pilot with a core set of employers at the top of their industries in engineering, pharmaceuticals, and consulting.

The preliminary results are promising. With 1500 Upwardly Global candidates participating, 193 candidates surfaced for 64 roles. Upwardly Global’s candidates are being surfaced at a disproportionate rate. This is a testament to our high-quality talent and the AI tool’s ability to understand our candidates’ professional experience. Whereas applicants would otherwise be screened out by traditional ATS systems not recognizing foreign credentials, this technology is helping level the playing field. We will produce a report on the findings soon!

E-Learning Inclusion Training Launch

We are thrilled to announce the launch of a set of e-learning modules to support employers in sourcing, interviewing, and hiring immigrant, refugee, and asylee talent. We co-created the content with employers and issue-area experts and have developed four e-learning pathways for recruiters, hiring managers, corporate leaders, and volunteers. Each pathway includes several learning modules that can be added to a company’s existing DEI and HR training curricula. We are currently rolling out the modules to a core group of employers to do an initial round of testing and gather feedback.

Special thanks to our valued partner Fragomen, who served as the subject matter expert for the module “Legal Pathways and Work Authorization.” We developed this specific module in response to a myriad of questions we receive from our employer network on the legal status of our candidates. Jill Zabel, Lead Immigration Specialist at Fragomen, joined the 10/26 Working Group meeting to share comments and tips on this topic for employers, including:

    • Take caution against asking direct questions about immigration status during the hiring process.
    • Consider conducting a voluntary population survey once new hires have been onboarded.
    • Consult with legal teams to ensure compliance with applicable laws.


A live poll during the meeting revealed that 60% of participants expressed interest in adding some or all of the curriculum to their existing suite of training, and 50% of participants hoped to make these trainings available to 10-100 learners within their companies.

Please see here for more information.

GET INVOLVED: E-Learning Advisory Group

Upwardly Global is launching a small E-Learning Advisory Group to help review, refine, and roll out our e-learning curriculum for employers. The group is scheduled to begin convening in early/mid November and run for four to six weeks. We anticipate an approximate total of two to three hours time commitment that will include completion of trainings and feedback surveys, as well as joining one to two 30-min Zoom sessions.

If you are interested in joining this group please contact: bijany@upwardlyglobal.org.

SCOTUS Affirmative Action Decision: Corporate Trends

Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down affirmative action in higher education, Upwardly Global turned to its network of nearly 200 employers to check the pulse. While we know that the decision does not apply to protecting affirmative action in hiring decisions, we learned that there was a sense of trepidation about what this could mean for diversity hiring initiatives should the Supreme Court turn to hiring next.

We encouraged employer partners to double down on their commitments to diversity and our work together, which is not affected by the SCOTUS decision, in various ways such as:

    • Ensuring interview panels are diverse.
    • Widening a recruitment net to improve the chances of a diverse pool of candidates to choose from.
    • Encouraging internal referrals through company employee resource groups.
    • Offering opportunities for internal mentorship.


We invited Ernest Ng, Vice President of Strategy, Research, Content and Incubation at HiredScore, for a rich discussion on corporate trends. From both Upwardly Global and HiredScore vantage points, we have not seen any huge shift or wavering in DEI commitments from our company partners. In particular, DEI commitments are still in place with large public-facing companies. Given HiredScore’s position as an ethical AI talent solution for employers serving 40% of the Fortune 100, the conversation centered around the importance of building systems that focus on inputs rather than outputs to ensure ethical and safe hiring practices. With college graduate pools potentially becoming less racially diverse, there is a new emphasis needed to structure the recruitment process in a way that includes diverse candidates in the flow of work, without lowering expectations or qualifications.

Resources for Employers from U.S. Government Partners

We closed the meeting with a share out of pertinent information from our government partners for employers engaged in refugee hiring.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is actively considering eligible Afghan parolees for extended parole and re-parole. Our colleagues at the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) have been working with interagency partners to address employment-related challenges and to disseminate information and resources. This includes information on relevant documentation that Afghans will receive when approved and how employers can then organize their HR systems to accept all forms of acceptable identification for I-9s and to ensure Afghan employees keep their documentation updated and current.

Employers: Please find below employer-focused resources on this topic, and please share any feedback on challenges you are seeing with Afghan job seekers waiting on re-parole.

  • USCIS’s Afghan Re-parole FAQs have been updated and have reference to Employment Authorization Documents (EAD’s) and other requirements: Afghan Re-Parole FAQs | USCIS
  • USCIS has released a fact sheet webpage for employers, which helps outline what documentation Afghans will receive once approved for parole. EAD extension cannot occur until extended or re-parole has been approved: A Quick Guide to Support The Afghan Workforce | USCIS
  • In regards to I-9’s: Additional Category of Afghan and Ukrainian Parolees Are Employment Authorized Incident to Parole
    • Employers should be made aware that eligible Afghan parolees with one of two pending applications with USCIS (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status or Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal) will be considered for an extension of their initial parole and employment authorization for up to two years.
    • Employees who have a category C11 Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will receive a Form I-797C, Notice of Action, indicating that the validity of their originally issued category C11 EAD is extended. The I-797C will also indicate that their initial parole is extended. USCIS will not automatically send another physical EAD, because an updated EAD is not necessary to establish work authorization.
  • The Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) has released an updated fact sheet for Afghan parolee employees: Employment Information for Afghans in the United States, updated in August of 2023.
      • This fact sheet will be updated soon in the Afghan languages of Dari and Pashto. Employers can also reach out to the IER Employer Hotline if they want to seek guidance on Afghan/refugee employee rights and the anti-discrimination provisions their HR departments should be following in regards to these populations: 1-800-255-8155.


The #LetAsylumSeekersWork Campaign

Launched on October 19, 2023, by Refugee Advocacy Lab, Refugees International, and 40 civil society groups — including Upwardly Global — this campaign was created to urge members of Congress to pass the bipartisan House bill “Asylum Seeker Workforce Authorization Act,” which would bolster the workforce by allowing people who have pending asylum applications in the United States to access work permits sooner. For more information and to join the campaign, see here.


About this initiative

Upwardly Global is engaging corporate America to better understand the roadblocks in hiring foreign talent. In 2020, together with our partners at Accenture, we brought together corporate leaders and internationally trained professionals to envision corporate facing products — from internships, to an inclusion playbook, to an index — that will change the DEI commitment calculus from a “nice to do” mandate to a “must do” action plan (see the executive summary from this initial work).

Launched in 2020, this DEI Employer Working Group takes this initial work forward to think about priority areas and prospective solutions in a deeper way. This is an invite-only working group to engage with peers, share best practices and challenges, and co-create solutions to better integrate immigrant and refugee talent into our workforce. To learn more, email Kim Cohen at kim@upwardlyglobal.org

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