How Johnson & Johnson is helping people displaced by war and conflict restart their lives
A Partnership for Good program expands the company’s talent pool in Europe while assisting the mental and financial health of people displaced by conflict. Here’s how this novel initiative helped one young Ukraine War refugee get a foothold.
Not long ago, Tetiana Demchenko was enjoying her life in her home city of Odessa, Ukraine—thriving in her job as an assistant to the commercial attaché́ at the Consulate of Turkey and spending her free time as an animal rescue volunteer.
But that all changed in February 2022, when war broke out.
“At that moment I felt I’d lost the ground under my feet,” recalls Demchenko. “I didn’t know what was next, what I should do or how I would survive. No one was prepared. It was a mess.”
At her parents’ urging, she took the last open seat in a friend’s car and crossed the border into Moldova. A kind Moldovan couple took her in and helped her get to Romania and eventually to Switzerland, where her sister had been living for eight years.
Starting over in a foreign country
Demchenko was happy to be with her sister. But as the weeks went by, she realized that the war wouldn’t be over any time soon, and she had to build a life in Switzerland. She wasn’t prepared to live there, and she’d never planned on it. Yet she began looking for a job along with thousands of others.
She was advised to lower her expectations for a job, given how many people were applying for every open role. Demchenko told herself, “I’ll never downgrade my education, my work expectation or myself.” She was insistent on creating a new life for herself in Switzerland while continuing to support those in Ukraine as much as she could.
To give herself an edge over other candidates, she spent her first summer in Switzerland learning German during the day and applying for jobs at night. The few interviews she did were painful. She was constantly reminded that she was a refugee, and employers weren’t interested. Then she got a call from a staffing agency to come in for an interview for a six-month contract role at a Johnson & Johnson company.
A lifechanging opportunity
Unknown to Demchenko at the time, the staffing agency and the Johnson & Johnson company had recently partnered on an initiative to provide job opportunities to people who were displaced by conflict across Europe. The partnership was spearheaded by a cross-functional team led by Human Resources and Procurement and is part of the company’s Partnerships for Good initiative.
Partnerships for Good are collaborations with suppliers to create innovative solutions that drive environmental, social and economic improvements.
This Partnership for Good initiative expands the company’s talent pool throughout Europe with experienced and motivated candidates while fostering the mental and financial health of people displaced by war and other threats.
Demchenko’s six-month contract eventually converted to a full-time position as a Johnson & Johnson company employee.
“Johnson & Johnson changed my life completely,” she says of her happy professional life. “I’m so thankful for having this opportunity.”