Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to understand the role talent intermediaries can play in supporting the access and development of talent from forcibly displaced backgrounds. Design/methodology/approach: The authors draw on a single case study design of UK charitable organisation, the Council for At-Risk Academics, to consider the global talent management of academics in exile. Findings: This paper finds that specialised intermediaries can facilitate access to and the successful performance (individual and organisational) of refugee talent. Findings reveal a major shift in talent recruitment processes that are required in order for refugees to take up international work opportunities and highlight the importance of viewing individual potential, organisational support and opportunity access as a precursor for talent development and impact. Practical implications: This paper shows that profession-specific intermediary support that fosters cross-sector partnerships, better addresses the talent development and workforce integration challenges of refugees. Originality/value: Application of a multi-level relational framework shows the reasons for, and reality of forced displacement for academics in exile. Focusing on the academic sector demonstrates the importance of protecting both individuals and values at the heart of professions subject to persecution during war and unrest. In highlighting how refugee talent intermediaries can support individuals to breach the canvas ceiling and facilitate the global mobility of refugee talent, a contribution is made to existing debates in diversity, global talent management and migration studies.

DOI: 10.1108/JOEPP-01-2021-0023
ISSN: 2051-6614