11 November 2021

Unlocking the potential of migrant youth in the workforce

Emmanuelle Werner Gillioz is the founder and director of Yojoa. She earned her degree from the Graduate Institute in 2000. 

Emmanuelle was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland. As a child, she witnessed the work of her mother supporting prisoners and their families day in day out. Since then, Emmanuelle has been driven by the need to move beyond stereotypes and to change narratives that are both disempowering and discriminatory. 

In 2000, she graduated from the Graduate Institute and traveled to Guatemala, where she spent over a year working with children in street situations and researching the issue of youth gangs.

From 2002 to 2007, she worked at Human Rights Watch and helped develop its presence in Geneva. There, she met her husband Sébastien, an Institute alumnus. In parallel, she completed a master's degree in children's rights at the Kurt Bösch Institute in Sion. 

In 2009, Emmanuelle flew with her husband and their baby son to Cambodia, where she joined the social enterprise Friends-International, and worked on child protection initiatives.

In 2010, Emmanuelle and her family moved to Beijing, where her husband joined the Swiss Embassy as a human rights advisor. During the next three years, Emmanuelle enjoyed her time in China, learning mandarin, giving birth to their daughter and writing a book that was later published ("Au-delà des cerfs-volants", Éditions Slatkine, 2015).

Back in Switzerland in 2013, she launched the Swiss office of Friends-International and developed awareness raising initiatives on the negative impact of voluntourism with children in the Global South, changing the narrative about the needs of local communities. 

In early 2020, Emmanuelle launched her own organisation, Yojoa. Convinced that inclusive growth is the only way to build resilient communities, Yojoa approaches diversity and inclusion as a performance lever and supports companies in their journey to develop more inclusive cultures.

Yojoa provides solutions to understand diversity and inclusion, to harness it, to live it and to promote it.

In this context, Emmanuelle and her team are also developing tailor made programs to facilitate employers’ access to young professionals and trainees with a migration background. And to unlock the potential of young migrants into the workforce.