“Honing Skills in Hospitality” programme: hiring refugees in Hong Kong

Hiring asylum-seekers and refugees at the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels head office and The Repulse Bay in Hong Kong.
Jobs & Livelihoods

“Honing Skills in Hospitality” programme: hiring refugees in Hong Kong

Hiring asylum-seekers and refugees at the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels head office and The Repulse Bay in Hong Kong.

Contact details

Submitted by: Helen Lock, Senior Corporate Responsibility Coordinator, The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited

Email: [email protected]

Website: hshgroup.com/


Introduction to the project 


Hong Kong SAR


2018 - Ongoing


Hiring asylum-seekers and refugees at the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels head office and The Repulse Bay in Hong Kong.

Project aims 

  1. Provide job opportunities to a vulnerable group in the HK community
  2. Provide training and mentorship to refugees to develop the job and life skills to enhance their future
  3. Tap into an alternative labour market (due to the shrinking talent pool in HK)

Resources used 

  • Support/buy-in and openness of the Group Human Resources team and the CEO
  • Partnership with relevant NGOs and law firms


  • Christian Action Refugee Centre
  • R.U.N. Hong Kong
  • Daly & Associates Law Firm
  • UNHCR (HK)
  • Clifford Chance

Challenges and how they were overcome


  1. Lack of clarity and understanding of obtaining permission to work from the HK govt
  2. Misperceptions and information on a refugee's ability to work in HK
  3. Even with some job training provided to refugees, they may still face challenges at work due to psychological trauma/lack of understanding of the work culture in HK
  4. Banks are not able to open bank accounts due to the lack of understanding of refugee papers and status (no Hong Kong ID card, but substantiated claim letters or refugee certificates)

How they were overcome

  1. Hired a human rights law firm to guide and advise us on obtaining the permission to work. Learning sessions were arranged with the relevant HR teams to explain the process and how to overcome challenges. We then documented the process and developed guidance that can be easily shared with anyone wanting to hire a refugee in HK
  2. Reached out the HSBC bank to discuss ways to allow for refugees to open their bank accounts in HK
  3. With the NGOs, arranged life coaching and counselling to refugees as the need arose to help them deal with any difficulties in life and work
  4. Assigned a work mentor to help navigate the work environment

Results of the Good Practice 

  • Hired 2 refugees in Hong Kong with one refugee completing their work period with us. We will continue to hire should relevant vacancies arise
  • Arranged "mock job fair" with other companies in HK to help build confidence with refugees in job hunting skills, as well as a platform for companies to meet refugees and encourage them to hire refugees where possible

How the project meets the GCR Objectives

Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries

  • Contribute to burden and responsibility sharing: Companies nowadays pay more and more attention to corporate social responsibility (CSR). Other than seeking profits, more focus has been placed on how the company can share the burden of the society. Hiring refugees can help relieving the financial burden of local government and NGOs as refugees will then rely less on social assistance.
  • Have the potential to be adapted, replicated, and/or broadened in scale: Associating the HSH/Peninsula brand with refugees could encourage private sector actors from all over the world to hire refugees. Best practice developed can be shared and adapted to suit local contexts elsewhere.

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

  • Respond to the needs of refugees and host communities, yielding sustained and positive benefits for them: Refugees no longer need to rely solely on the social assistance provided by the local government and NGOs, instead they can make a living by themselves. This generally will improve their livelihoods as the social assistance provided is barely enough for them. It is also good for their mental health and it prepares them for the future, wherever that may be. 
  • Be developed in partnership with other stakeholders, including refugees and host populations: The employment in a way is a partnership with the refugees. Refugees can blend in the local community more by interacting with the customers and their colleagues from host country. They will learn more about the local culture. At the same time, our company’s staff could learn more about refugees so as to develop a more comprehensive world view.

Next steps 

  1. Share experiences with other companies in relation to refugee hiring, including sharing our hiring process guidelines, orientation and work mentoring
  2. Expand this programme in our other operations globally, where this is permitted
  3. Expand to hiring high school-aged interns from refugee backgrounds as part of our secondary school summer internship programme
  4. Identify other partners that can help with counselling and providing mental and emotional support for refugees
  5. Arrange learning sessions on the refugee situation with colleagues to develop empathy and understanding for refugees' situation in HK