Western Union Costa Rica: continuing our support of refugees

People By Tiffany Teichrow Oct 28, 2021

Being there for our customers, no matter the circumstance, is inherent to our success and our legacy. Connecting people of all walks of life to the digital economy is what we are founded on. And, we are committed to helping research and develop sustainable and durable solutions for forcibly displaced people around the globe.

For one of our strategic talent centers—the Latin America Regional Operating Center (LAROC), in Santa Ana, Costa Rica—supporting refugees from other Latin American countries is a priority for this ongoing commitment. Caroline Mata, Human Resources Director at Western Union in Costa Rica, has been with Western Union since 2005. She was recently promoted from Senior Director of Human Resources in Costa Rica to Group Leader of Human Resources in Denver. In addition to holding a leadership role with our People Organization team, Mata is a thought leader in corporate responsibility. She has been a long-time supporter of diverse refugees and immigrants’ programs at Western Union.

As part of Caroline’s support, she has attended several panels across the industry, discussing issues related to refugees and immigrants. Earlier this year, Caroline attended the MIRPS (Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solutions Framework) Business Roundtable. Here, representatives from several local companies shared their current and future actions to support labor market integration and give visibility to what other employers can do to help improve the integration of refugees and legal migrants into their workforce. She proposed that the private sector needs to partner with governments to respond to forced displacement. “[We need to] create spaces for companies to work together, listen to people in displacement situations, understand what is needed, and share best practices with the public sector,” she said.

Western Union partners with organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (or ANCUR– la Agencia de la ONU para los Refugiados—in Spanish). Through these partnerships, we have several activities underway to help support this ongoing need.

  • We have a group of employees in Costa Rica who make up our LAROC Social Ventures team. Through employee engagement, communications, and volunteering, they:
    • Have received training, along with Talent Acquisition and Human Resources representatives, specific to recruiting and managing those who are just getting on their feet in a new country, with special considerations for their resource needs. (We are looking to extend this offering to other countries in South America.)
    • ACNUR has a livelihood program, which they operate through a partner agency in Costa Rica called Fundación Mujer. The Social Ventures team works with Fundación Mujer to deliver training and participate in career fairs. In 2020, Western Union donated USD 5K to Fundación Mujer for IT equipment to support programs and enable refugees.
    • Like the Western Union Foundation—through Opportunity Beyond Borders—the team collaborates with nonprofits to provide migrants and refugees with the skills needed for career opportunities that align with their skills and interests and a chance at a better life.
  • As a continuation of this roundtable, Caroline and the other multinational representatives worked with ACNUR to develop a guide that 1) explains what it means to be a refugee, and 2) provides clear guidance on hiring a refugee and creating awareness among the employee workforce. This document will be presented to other companies in the coming weeks during the HR Best Practices event, sponsored by CINDE, a Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency.

When asking Caroline her hopes for the future of the Social Ventures team and the continued efforts across the industry, she noted: “Most people hope to build a world without barriers—where human rights are inherent and respected and all people receive the same opportunities. The work we are doing now and in the future, however small, helps make a difference to those who have felt forced to leave their homes because they share these same beliefs.”

If you, your family, or friends are refugees living in Costa Rica and are looking for support, here are a couple of options:

  • If you would like to get involved or donate to these efforts, please visit https://www.fundacionmujer.org/support-us.
  • For career opportunities with Western Union that you or a friend or family member may be interested in, please explore our job listing here.
  • If you would like to understand the career journey and hiring process at Western Union, along with steps on creating a candidate profile, this guide will help you: Reach your career goals with Western Union.