25 of the Most Influential Companies for Veteran Hiring
Thanks to the commitment made by organizations across the country, more of America’s former service members are going back to work.
Thanks in no small part to initiatives by both federal and private sector employers, the veteran unemployment rate dropped to 5.3 percent last year —the lowest level since 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Figures released in March of this year marked 2014 as the fourth consecutive year this rate has declined.
For the second year in a row, we’ve identified 25 of the organizations that are influencing the conversation, developing programs and best practices, creating or advancing new tools, and providing the philanthropic support that is helping to level the playing field.
These organizations have a deeply rooted commitment to supporting veterans as they make the transition to a civilian workforce. Their internal and external efforts have helped to promote promising new approaches, create innovative tools and identify best practices, and the entire business community has benefitted.
The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company Heroes Work Here (HWH) initiative, announced in 2012 by Chairman and CEO Robert Iger, has greatly accelerated and helped solidify the Company’s recruitment, retention, leadership development and support strategies for veteran employees and their families. With a commitment to hiring at least 1,000 veterans by 2015, the Company quickly exceeded that goal and as of March 2015, has made more than 5,000 job offers to veterans.
Last year, Disney made our list when it launched a first-of-its-kind training program to encourage other companies to hire veterans. The inaugural Disney Veterans Institute brought together more than 500 attendees representing more than 350 organizations for a day of networking and sharing best practices at Disney World headquarters in Florida. Since then, the program has expanded its reach, hosting regional events at the USAA Headquarters in San Antonio in August 2014, and at the General Motors Headquarters in Detroit in June 2015.
The work of Disney’s Veterans Institute has been instrumental in helping the business community understand the challenges transitioning military face entering the workforce, as well as the approaches and tools that can help them succeed. As a result of these efforts, 5,000 veterans have secured jobs.
This year, we also recognize Disney for its ability to inspire its employee base to promote the cause. To date, Disney has provided over $1 million in support to veteran and military organizations and, through the Disney VoluntEARS program, employees have engaged in several service projects with veterans organizations in communities around the country.
Another key component of Disney’s continuing engagement involves building communities for military employee and family members. Disney’s Employee Resource Groups at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, ESPN, and Disney ABC Television Group play an important role in creating and reinforcing inclusive behaviors for veterans and other employees in the workplace. They also help support professional development courses designed to help veterans navigate their careers at Disney.
“The Walt Disney Company and the military share a lot of the same attributes that I really came to cherish during my military service,” says Cappy Surette, former Navy Captain and PAO, who now serves as the Senior Manager of Executive Communications at Walt Disney World. “These attributes include teamwork, professionalism, heritage and a tremendous commitment to taking care of your people.”
CACI has served the U.S. military since 1963 when it received its first contract to perform research and simulation for the Navy. And for the past 50 years, CACI employees have helped defense and intelligence customers deliver mission-critical capabilities. You’ll find CACI employees working alongside service members in numerous countries, deploying biometrics tools that identify terrorist threats, delivering geospatial imagery used for operational planning, and providing supply-chain security framework to transport medical equipment to military hospitals.
Today, 3,984 veterans and 1,144 active duty service members proudly call CACI their employer. CACI’s commitment to attracting and retaining veterans, reservists, and military spouses starts at the very top. Many of its executives, including the CEO, are veterans themselves. Veterans currently make up nearly 30 percent of CACI’s workforce, and hold 545 job titles across the organization; disabled veterans account for more than six percent of the population.
CACI’s Veteran Support, Diversity and Inclusion (VSI) office is the internal organization that implements programs to ensure veterans feel connected to the company from day one of their careers. These military employment advocates—themselves retired service members—draw on their personal experiences and connections to reach job seekers in the military community and to provide these individuals the assistance that meets their needs.
Although CACI’s VSI team is less than two years old, its success can be seen in the outstanding programs and tools it has developed to assist former service members grow their careers. Many of the programs are uniquely “high-touch.” CACI’s Veteran Mentoring Program, for example, pairs newly hired veterans with a CACI employee (usually a former service member as well) who serves as mentor and helps ensure a smooth transition into the CACI workforce.
VSI team members also provide support one-on-one support for Reserve and National Guard members, taking on the role of mediator between the employee, their immediate manager, and HR. Their subject matter expertise, advocacy, and collaboration help ensure all actions adhere with USERRA practices and provide the employee a seamless experience returning to and from military service.
CACI’s VSI team utilizes this “high-touch” philosophy in recruitment as well, by establishing a personal connection with veteran candidates based on shared military and civilian experiences. Team members personally contact over 5,600 veteran applicants each month, ensuring that their questions are answered and helping to ensure successful job placement.
This personalized approach requires a commitment that extends beyond the traditional office hours and duties. One VSI team member, for example, voluntarily provides weekly resume and job search services for homeless veterans in Northern Virginia.
Since the start of its veteran hiring initiative in November 2011, Ryder has hired over 2,100 veterans, increasing the percentage of veterans in its U.S. workforce from 8 to 10 percent, and has more than doubled its number of recently-separated veterans hired since joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program. In the next three years, the company has committed to hiring 2,000 veterans, many of them as drivers and technicians.
To accomplish this, Ryder has partnered with Hiring our Heroes and FASTPORT to assist veterans, transitioning service members, and their spouses in finding great careers in the trucking industry through the Trucking Track Mentoring Program.
The Trucking Track Mentoring program provides separating military personnel with information about the trucking industry, the many positions available, and connects these service members to mentors who can personally walk them through the career search and onboarding processes. According to Senior Director of Recruiting Services Patrick Pendergast, Ryder’s internal military employee group serve as these mentors and also provide ongoing career coaching to help them succeed in the industry.
“We’ve spoken with over 125 current service members to date. What we’ve heard is that they’re thankful for the information and want to maintain a connection,” says Pendergast. “The person-to-person aspect helps tremendously. There’s an overwhelming amount of information to consider, and the interviewing process is new to them. Having someone in the industry that’s a veteran themselves to talk with makes them infinitely more comfortable.
Army & Air Force Exchange Service
At war and in peacetime, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service provides goods and services to U.S. service members and their families everywhere they serve on military installations—whether in the U.S and overseas. In fact, more than 4,300 volunteer Exchange associates have deployed to locations such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait or the Balkans—to anywhere Soldiers and Airmen serve—in order to bring a welcome taste of home to these deserving troops.
The number of Exchange associates who are veterans (10%), spouses and family members (24%) and individuals connected in some way to the military (36%) truly exemplifies its core value, “Family Serving Family.”
Like their civilian counterparts, military spouses and family members seek career opportunities. While they must often follow their military sponsor from one location to the next, spouses and children know the Exchange offers several opportunities to not only maintain employment, but also build a career. The Exchange’s Spouse Employment Preference program, for example, provides preference when competing for vacant positions, and its Spouse Continuity program provides priority placement for spouses moving with their Soldier or Airman to the next duty assignment.
According to Thomas Shull, Director and Chief Operating Officer for the Exchange, “These programs are a win-win for both the Associate—who continues their career progression—as well as the Exchange which saves on training and keeps smart, dedicated people within the organization.”
The Exchange’s goal for 2015 is to increase the number of veteran hires in management roles. Through its Retail (RMT) and Advanced Retail (ARMT) management training programs, veterans can not only gain the retail foundation and techniques they need to be successful, but also hands-on leadership experience in retail management. Upon successful completion, participants are assigned to managerial roles in any one of their worldwide locations, from Afghanistan to Alaska.
“Veterans understand Exchange customers because they once were Exchange customers,” says Shull. “What’s more, hiring veterans is just a small way to give back to those the Exchange serves.”
Baxter was recently recognized as a 2015 G.I. Jobs Military Friendly® Company for its efforts in recruiting and retaining military personnel and veterans as employees. The company made our list for the resources and support to those who are transitioning from the military into new careers in the civilian world.
Baxter’s support has a “hub” in the company’s business resource group, BaxVets, comprised of employees who are veterans, current service members, family members and allies. The group not only assists Baxter employees, but also gives back to the military community by supporting some outstanding veteran career events and engaging in volunteer projects.
In September, for example, BaxVets took part in a career day at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo., where they mentored veterans and their spouses and provided guidance on resume building, interviewing and networking. The local BaxVets team followed up with a “Day with Baxter” event, where participants in the career day had the opportunity to visit Baxter’s offices in Englewood, Colo., for one-on-one mentoring sessions.
In 2014, Baxter began partnering with the MedTech and BioTech Veterans Program (MVP), which provides transitioning military veterans with career resources and training opportunities to prepare for careers in the sciences. In September, Baxter sponsored an MVP re-careering event at its headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois for transitioning military in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. The one-day seminar, staffed by Baxter employee volunteers, included active one-on-one mentoring, resume-building, interview training and rehearsals, and guidance on creating a professional social media presence.
“It’s so important for us to acknowledge the service that these dedicated men and women have performed, and to say thank you,” says Joseph Petty, Baxter senior marketing manager, U.S. hospital products, and former Army Captain who is also part of BaxVets’ leadership team. Petty was one of the volunteer mentors at the MVP event.
“We value veterans’ enormous past contributions within the military, as well as the diverse, meaningful paths they embark upon as civilians.”
Sprint has approximately 1,300 employees who have identified themselves as military or former military members and currently has 50 employees deployed.
Its veteran-focused employee resource group, VETS (Veterans and Employees helping others Through Sprint), has more than 800 active members in 36 states and Puerto Rico. Now in its 7th year, the group provides professional development and mentoring opportunities for former service members in Sprint’s employ, hosts internal educational and cultural events, and is involved in community-service outreach projects dealing with active and former military members.
Sprint’s headquarters are located close to Fort Leavenworth, and many of the successful programs the company now hosts were launched there. Its Military Transition Workshop is one example. Designed for transitioning service members, the workshop provides guidance from professionals in placement agencies and executive life coaches on topics such as building your brand, networking, translating skills and writing resumes, etc.
“Sprint is actively engaged in ACAP programs and panels, and networks with groups throughout this community to provide that kind of help and information that can benefit these soldiers and their families,” says Ronald Barry, Sprint Manager and retired Army officer once based at Leavenworth. We’ve also done additional programs that were more one-on-one that have been extremely successful.”
“For one program, we brought in a lot of our directors and senior members and broke into small discussion groups so we could address their personal questions. It’s the ability to speak with people that have been in your shoes that makes the difference for these transitioning service members.”
Sprint recently donated $100,000 in technology to military students and is partnering with the U.S. Army’s Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS), a strategic U.S. Army program working with businesses across different industries to open the door to possible employment opportunities once a soldier or cadet has fulfilled his or her required Army obligations with the Army, Army reserve or Army ROTC.
Sprint was recently recognized as a 2014 Most Valuable Employer for Military for the fifth year in a row from CivilianJobs.com, named by G.I. Jobs as a top Military Friendly Employer for 2014, as well as the No. 2 happiest company for U.S. veterans in 2012 by CareerBliss.
Booz Allen Hamilton
Since Booz Allen Hamilton won its first Navy contract in 1940—75 years ago—it has continuously served U.S. military clients, and leveraged the knowledge of the veterans in its employ to provide expertise to Defense and Intelligence clients. Today the firm is committed to continuing its tradition of being a best-in-class employer for veterans, reservists, and military spouses. And, with approximately one-third of the employee base self-identified as having a military background, the organization has developed hiring and retention practices that are absolutely best in class.
The organization’s dedicated full-time military recruiting staff works with many outside organizations that support hiring for these individuals, and has also developed tools to hone its approach to recruit and retain the best employees. Webinars and Virtual Job Fairs, for example, as well as a dedicated LinkedIn group offer potential employees flexible timing so they can look for jobs or ask questions after hours or on the weekends.
Booz Allen has a very active program dedicated to recruiting and retaining Reservists and Guards members. But of particular note is the organization’s concerted effort to recruit and retain military spouses. Booz Allen participates in the Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Career Forums and helped launch the MilSpouse online mentoring program with Hiring Our Heroes and Academy Women.
At least one firm member has “boots” in both of these groups. Catherine L. Breeze, Booz Allen Vice President, is a former Navy Reservist and military spouse. “Military spouses face unemployment and underemployment, often at a rate higher than veterans,” she says. “They’ll often have great skills and education, but also have the same type of gap in translating the experience as do veterans.”
Booz Allen has two Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)—The Armed Services Forum (ASF) and Military Spouse Forum (MSF). These 1,200-member, employee-led groups provide mentors, opportunities to give back to military communities, conduits to share issues and connect to firm resources, and for spouses and Reservists, they provide know-how from people facing permanent change of station (PCS) season or a deployment.
Comcast NBCUniversal has been instrumental in changing the national conversation on the value of hiring veterans and military spouses. Since 2011, the company has been a media partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring our Heroes, promoting career fairs and quarterly veteran employment summits via NBC News outlets. And it routinely partners with Veteran Service Organizations locally and nationally, using its unique media resources to offer support through Public Service Announcements (PSAs), Xfinity voice call banks to call deployed service members, Hire a Veteran on Demand, and Holiday Troops greetings.
It also leverages other unique resources to create tools for veterans that get tremendous traction. NBC News and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, for example, launched a jobs and education resource portal called “Next Step for Vets” to connect veterans and their families with up-to-date tools and information, such as resume help, job searches, and information on how to launch a business. It includes tools like eBooks including Heroes Get Hired: How to Use Your Military Experience to Master the Interview and the Financial Guide for Military Families by Jean Chatzky, Today Show’s Financial Editor, designed to help make the transitioning process easier for both the service member and their family.
“Were interested in supporting those who serve as well as those former service members who work with us,” says Will Baas, Comcast’s Vice President of Talent Acquisition. “It’s a very holistic approach,
The co-lead of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) Veteran Employment Task Force on Veteran hiring in the media industry, Comcast NBCUniversal has hired over 3,300 Vets across the organization since the beginning of 2012 when it launched Hiring Our Heroes, tripling its CEO commitment to hire 1,000 veterans by 2015. As a veteran-founded company with veterans represented from the front line to the C-Suite, it has a long tradition of hiring those who have served.
Discover’s Financial Stability Program for Service Members and their Families was launched In 2013, and it has grown tremendously over the past two years. An innovative program designed to provide work-at-home employment opportunities and financial education for military personnel and their family members, this program got its start at the Dover Air Force Base and Delaware Air National Guard facilities—both in close proximity to Discover Bank’s headquarters.
The idea for the program was born during discussions with Delaware Senator Tom Carper, a delegation of congressmen and senior leaders within the local military community. During these discussions, the Discover team recognized just how challenging financial stability can be for families of service members. As 69 percent of service members in Dover have no formal education beyond high school, courses on credit and debt management would be essential. However, there also needed to be more opportunities to increase household income. That meant creating job opportunities for spouses, who have a difficult time finding employment in an environment where deployment and relocation are likely in the near future.
To launch such a program, Discover engaged Delaware Technical Community College to help provide additional support for recruitment, training, and space. Delaware Technical Community College has its own customer service training course and is in close proximity to Dover AFB. Partnering helped create a convenient and well-rounded program that provides training, employment and professional advancement options for the broader military community.
According to Jeff Moran, Regional Operations Director and head of the program, “What makes the program unique is the training they receive. Program participants train on equipment that they will take with them to work from home. We started with the customer service role, which make a great foundation for a long-term career with us. Many have moved into more senior-level roles, becoming coaches, team leaders, and project managers. And when their husband or wife is deployed to another base, the role can move with them.”
Currently, over 100 employees—roughly 10 percent—of the Delaware employment base are program participants. Employee attrition rates remain low, and 11 employees have relocated across the United States due to military relocation orders. Employees who request relocation are provided with the tools and resources to continue their existing employment at their new base location.
“We get some great talent from this program,” says Moran. “But what makes it truly successful is that our service families feel more secure knowing that jobs are available for them—jobs that are flexible enough so they can balance work and household duties while their loved-ones are deployed, and are transportable when their orders take them to a new location.”
Ernst & Young LLP
Another important part of serving our nation’s veterans is helping their families find economic stability when caring for a wounded veteran. Ernst & Young is a founding sponsor of EBV-F, an entrepreneurship training program for immediate family members of returning veterans with disabilities and surviving spouses of fallen heroes. Administered through Syracuse’s Whitman School of Business, EBV-F is a companion program of Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, which was named a “national best practice” for serving veterans and their families by the Secretary of the Army in 2009.
Last year, Ernst & Young LLP also launched a first-of-its-kind fellowship program to support the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), sending select professionals to work for IVMF pro bono for three months to advance work supporting veterans and their families. This program will be offered twice a year during the fall and spring.
IVMF develops education and employment-focused programs in collaboration with industry, government, NGOs and the veteran’s community. The organization works to address the primary economic and public policy concerns of our nation’s servicemen, servicewomen and their families.
“Our support of veterans doesn’t stop at our office door,” says Joe McHugh, former Navy officer and EY Executive Director/Veterans Network co-leader. “We work with many local and national organizations dedicated to the concerns of veterans. Our people volunteer their nights and weekends to work with our client’s veterans network to help man career sessions, or with organizations like the Jericho Project to provide shelter and resources to the homeless in our city. We’re passionate about this work because it’s an opportunity to personally give back.”
Opening the door to opportunities is just one side of the coin for veteran recruitment at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), The other, and perhaps more important, is taking a personal approach to ensuring they transition well.
The key, explains Michael Donoghue, former Army Captain and PwC Advisory Director, “is developing personal relationships with each member we work with to help them find the right career for service member and their family.” PwC’s transition support program begins with its outreach and recruiting efforts. It is an approach to recruiting that is focused on understanding the service member’s desires, matching it with the correct career, and providing that career personal support so it can thrive.
From the very first meeting, to the internal veterans interview day, to a happy hour with senior leadership and staff, every step of the recruitment process is personal. But the personal touch doesn’t stop there.
Once hired each is provided with a Veteran Buddy. This employee reaches out before the service member starts orientation to check in, see how the transition is going and to answer any questions the new hire might have. This relationship continues for as long as the veteran wants it to and, according to Donoghue, has had a very positive impact on retention.
“We began this mentorship program in response to turnover; we were seeing only 20 percent stay with the firm for a year or longer. This might be average for the industry, but we knew we could do better,” he said. “From exit interviews, we learned that veterans felt they often were assigned to a team where there weren’t a lot of military members, so they weren’t sure how their skills sets applied. And because of the flexibility of their new roles in the Firm, they had trouble finding and understanding the requirements needed to move forward.”
Today, PwC enjoys a turnover of rate of less than five percent among transitioning veterans, well below industry average.
There are few companies in which the culture and value system are as aligned to those of former service members than Hormel Foods. Well known for providing 100 million pounds of SPAM® Classic to keep World War II troops nourished, today, Hormel products are still a staple with our troops, at home and abroad. In fact, in 2014, Hormel Foods provided nearly 4 million pounds of product to the military—including ham, bacon, sausage, and sliced meats—for use in dining facilities, aircraft carriers and even in the field.
The company’s partnership with the military extends far beyond foodservice. Hormel Foods has continually been recognized for having a culture and policies that cater to military veterans by G.I. Jobs magazine and Military Times EDGE.
In 2013, Hormel Foods signed a pledge to participate in the VetFriendly 50,000 jobs challenge, working with other employers to hire 50,000 veterans and military spouses by 2018. It has also partnered with key national organizations such as Fisher House Foundation to support military scholarships and Wounded Warrior Project to raise awareness for returning wounded veterans, among other organizations.
“I have worked for other employers that say how much they value family and work-life balance. Having said that, I hadn’t experienced the type of family support I received prior to becoming part of the Hormel Foods team.
“My daughter was hospitalized over a year ago, and being the person I am, it took me a few days before I went to my manager with this information. I was struggling coming to work every day, as any parent would, knowing there was little I could do for her while she convalesced. When my manager found out I had been at work with a child in the hospital, he asked, “Why did you take so long to tell me?” He allowed me to telecommute for a couple of weeks while my daughter healed. This was more than I expected from any employer. No other manager or employer had supported me, and my family, in such a way. This reminded me of my service in the Army, an Army of One, One FAMILY, One TEAM.
“Loyalty and honor are just a few of the characteristics most military team members share. Never would I expect an employer to show such loyalty and honor to me, and my family, as well. I can honestly say Hormel Foods has welcomed me and many other veterans by treating us truly like ‘family.’”
Dionne Meehan, retired Army sergeant first class and Retail Product Manager, Jennie-O Turkey Store
Last year, Deloitte made our list for an initiative it had just launched called the Career Opportunity Redefinition & Exploration (CORE) Leadership Program. A 2½-day program delivered at Deloitte University, CORE is unique in that it is designed solely to help veterans identify and communicate their unique brand. They already have the skills necessary to succeed in the corporate sector, veterans hear at CORE. They simply need to know how to market them.
To teach this important lesson, CORE’s curriculum focuses on four areas: developing a personal brand and building a professional network, communicating effectively, understanding corporate functions and industries, and adjusting to a corporate culture.
Now in its second year, CORE has hit its stride. By the end of 2014, five classes of graduates–250 individuals–had completed the program with nearly all (94 percent) securing new careers in the private sector.
In 2014, KPMG took steps to formalize their support of service members, especially those in the Guard and the Reserve. Chairman and CEO John Veihmeyer, signed the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Statement of Support, reaffirming KPMG’s pledge to continually recognize and support our country’s service members and their families in peace, crises, and war. To further demonstrate its support, KPMG enhanced its military leave policy to provide active duty military, and members of the Reserves and National Guard, with up to 12 months of differential pay. Reservists and Guard members can also take a Military Leave of Absence when on assignment or in training, and receive up to 12 months of differential pay.
Extremely active in the veteran hiring space, during 2014, KPMG’s recruiting teams participated in over 20 career expos and conferences, posted jobs on 25 veteran-targeted job boards and social media sites, and hosted the very first KPMG Veterans and Transitioning Military Virtual Career Fair. The virtual career fair enabled veterans and transitioning Service members to interact directly with KPMG recruiters. Recruiting veterans/reservists/military spouses is a critical component of the firm’s recruiting strategy, and to assist in this effort, the firm launched a new website specifically for veterans and has hired two recruiters dedicated to veteran hiring.
KPMG also has an active Veterans Network that support both former and active service members, as well as military spouses. According to Regina Mayor, former Army Captain and National Chair of the KPMG Veterans Network, military spouses became an influential voice “rather spontaneously. One military spouse is a member of our Veteran Network board. They have brought a real energy to the group,” she says, “and helped build a truly thriving community that helps us support the spouse’s unique needs, as well.”
KPMG was named to the Top 100 Military Friendly Employers list in 2014.
Jason John, an Audit Partner at KPMG in Omaha, was presented the Patriot Award from the U.S. Department of Defense in 2015. The Patriot Award was created by ESGR to recognize individuals who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their employees who serve in the U.S. National Guard or Reserve. John was nominated for this award by a former KPMG team member, Staff Sergeant John Whalen. Pictured, left; Jason John, award recipient; and Ned Holmes. US Military Liaison for the Omaha Greater Chamber of Commerce.
PNC Bank is another organization that has made strides in its support of employees on active duty. In 2014, PNC became one of 15 recipients of the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The Freedom Award is the Department’s highest recognition, given to employers that show exceptional support of Guard and Reserve employees. What makes this particular award special is that Guardsmen and Reservists from within the organization nominate their employer for going far beyond what is required by federal law to support military employees.
“Our nominator was deployed to Afghanistan when the awards were announced,” says Chris Phillips, Military and Disabilities Recruiter—herself a retired Marine sergeant. “He kept the nomination a secret, even though we spoke with him often via Skype or phone. We do stay in contact with our employees when they’re overseas, as well as their families. We were surprised and honored by the news.”
Last year, PNC was recognized for its environment often, including being named a GI Jobs Top 100 Military Friendly Employer and receiving the Veterans Corporate Leadership Award for Western Pennsylvania. The company continually works to uphold its commitment to supporting veterans both internally, through initiatives like the Military Employee Business Resource Group (MEBRG), and outside through strategic partnerships with organizations like Soldier for Life.
“In the next three to four years, 1.4 million service members will be transitioning from active duty. That means the next great wave of talent will be going from a uniform into a suit, and we want to be ready for that wave. These are individuals that bring with them a remarkable set of soft skills including agility, leadership, teambuilding, and initiative. They’re also bringing hard skills that can make them great business analysts, project managers, or even sales or customer service providers. If you can initiate a connection with a nomadic community in Afghanistan, you can sell anything PNC has to offer.”
Last year, we recognized JPMorgan Chase for their work to engage like-minded organizations through the 100,000 Jobs Mission. Since the coalition’s founding in 2011, it has grown to more than 150 companies, which have collectively hired more than 117,000 veterans. These companies have also doubled their commitment – to hire a total of 200,000 veterans – and to expand their efforts to include military spouses.
In 2014, JPMorgan Chase expanded its commitment, deploying $8 million of the $20 million pledged over the next five years to support U.S. military veterans and their families as part of a new collaborative effort of the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative known as the Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge.
The Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge – initiated by the Blue Shield of California Foundation, the Bristol Meyers Squibb Foundation, the Lincoln Community Foundation and the McCormick Foundation – creates a community of funders and builds momentum for programs that will support service members, veterans and their families, in local communities.
JPMorgan Chase has earmarked the $20 million for programs and initiatives focused on employment, education and housing, which are designed to help veterans and their families succeed after their military service ends. The pledge includes a commitment to community partners that provide direct services to the military and veteran populations at both a national and regional level, as well as a continued commitment to fund higher education programs for veterans and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, which the firm co-founded in 2011.
Recruiting military personnel and their spouses is nothing new to Kelly Services. One of the leaders in workforce and staffing solutions has developed close relationships with the military and launched multiple initiatives to engage this valuable talent in its 65-year history. Over the years, the company has put thousands of former military, reservists, or military spouses to work. In 2014, over 6,500 former and current service members were on assignment through Kelly.
In the coming years, Kelly’s goal is that veterans will represent 8% of its internal employee workforce and 8% of its contingent or direct-hire workforce.
“Kelly helps organizations large and small meet their veteran recruitment goals,” says Chris Walker, lieutenant colonel with the USMC Reserve, and Veteran Recruitment Liaison for Kelly Services.
“Through programs like our KellyConnect and Kelly Veterans Employment and Transition Services (KVETS) we can align our services with organizations that provide growth opportunities for returning veterans and active service members. Kelly Services has established relationships with companies of all sizes and industries, including the federal Government. These business relationships allow us to give veterans in a number of disciplines, including IT, engineering, healthcare, education customer service…even transportation. ” Kelly also provides transition and training resources that help new hires succeed in these areas.
“But what makes a relationship with Kelly an asset,” adds Walker, “is our ability to focus on the skills and talents developed in their MOS, and align them with opportunities that may be a good fit—so they don’t get lost in translation before the company can see how they apply.”
Michael Zwada is a former Marine and Kelly recruiter who has been with the company for less than a year. Hired (on the spot!) at a Hero2Hired event, Zwada works with civilian candidates as well as former and current military. He believes service members—and their families—gain skills from their experience that can benefit employers, as well as traits like flexibility, initiative and persistence. “At Kelly, we understand that the experiences don’t always translate,” says Zwada, “But you walk away with traits that any company would be lucky to have in its employees. Having someone that personally guides you and goes to bat for you makes a difference.”
Another company that—by virtue of its industry—can help place thousands of veterans in careers successfully is WilsonHCG. Specializing in recruitment process outsourcing, WilsonHCG partners with a number of Fortune 500 clients to help them achieve annual veteran hiring goals. One of the tools the organization uses to help clients keep their commitments is their Operation Transition program.
A veteran workforce transition and job search program, Operation Transition helps veterans create the tools needed to stand out in a competitive job market. WilsonHCG holds complimentary online sessions each month for veterans, active service members and their spouses, where they can get resume building tips, career advice, help with building a LinkedIn profile, and job search tools. The monthly sessions proved so popular that the program has been expanded to include one-on-one counseling sessions with recruiters upon request.
“As a former military spouse, I’ve seen the program fill in gaps that typical transition programs may not provide,” says Ashleigh Blackwell, Operation Transition lead for WilsonHCG. “One-on-one workshops are just one example of the kind of personalized help veterans can receive through Operation Transition. We are also able to research niche job boards for veterans, share skills translator tools and provide coaching during the interview process and throughout the hiring process.”
“WilsonHCG is also able to share opportunities offered by our clients and others in our network that would make a good match for their skills and talents,” she adds.
Over 10% of the client hires made by WilsonHCG’s hires are veterans.
Prudential has established several programs that provide access to quality education, job training, and employment opportunities for veterans. One of the most successful is VETalent, a unique work-study program designed for post-9/11 veterans.
In 2009 Prudential partnered with Workforce Opportunities Services, a nonprofit organization, and Rutgers University-Newark to develop a certification program that would help prepare returning veterans for jobs in IT. The first class of veterans began training in early 2010 and graduated in July 2011.
“Our plan was to prove the process and see if there was something that would work in other locations and other companies,” says Chuck Sevola, Prudential’s vice president of Veterans Initiatives. “Today, VETalent has been implemented in six Prudential offices, our latest in El Paso. It’s also across multiple disciplines, including back office operations and project management.”
This year Prudential will host five VETalent classes that will prepare as many as 60-70 veterans for new careers at Prudential. And, for the first time, there will be a track dedicated to military spouses.
“The constant potential for a reassignment or deployment is hard on families in many ways, and not being able to count on a second income is can be devastating to family finances,” adds Sevola. “Prudential’s world class telecommunication network and remote access capabilities makes many of our careers ideal for the military spouse, Through VETalent, we can provide spouses the technological knowledge and hands-on experience they need to be able to work with us wherever they may be stationed next, so that job continuity and opportunity for advancement is available to them.”
The Principal Financial Group
You can make a world of difference by starting in your own back yard, and there’s probably no better example than The Principal Financial Group’s veteran’s efforts.
In 2012–when the unemployment rate for returning veterans in Iowa was a staggering 32 percent–the company took a leadership role, joining forces with other organizations and businesses in their home state to educate employers on the many benefits of hiring veterans. In a little over a year, the Hire Our Heroes initiative—spearheaded by The Principal’s now-retired Senior Vice President Mary O’Keefe—helped ignite employment initiatives throughout Central Iowa and lowered the state unemployment rate for veterans to 6 percent. The company’s contribution was recognized by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) with its Above and Beyond Award, Patriotic Employer Award, and the Seven Seals Award, honoring O’Keefe for her leadership with the broadest and most inclusive award bestowed by ESGR.
More importantly, it helped to kick-start an even wider initiative.
The Home Base Iowa initiative is a non-profit, private-public partnership that will connect servicemen and women to the many job opportunities available with state businesses. Backed by a bill passed in 2013, Home Base Iowa is designed to provide veterans with the resources they need to find employment, and also will introduce them to welcoming communities as they transition into civilian life.
“Our Veterans Employee Resource Group and Volunteer Network are extremely active locally, as well,” says group chairperson Mike Fuller, Assistant Director IT Architecture. “Through our ongoing relationship with Central Iowa Shelter & Services, we came to understand just how many homeless Iowans are veterans. Now, part of our partnership with that group includes volunteer efforts that can help get these veterans back to work, like teaching basic digital literacy skills and holding resumé writing or interviewing workshops. It’s a way to give back that has lasting impact.”
Home Base Iowa is supported by the Iowa Business Council, a non-profit, non-partisan organization comprised of major Iowa employers and chaired by The Principal’s Chairman and CEO, Larry Zimpleman. The council has committed to a collective goal of hiring 2,500 veterans by 2018, and has spent the last year designed programming and outreach efforts to promote the program and its benefits both inside and outside the state.
The Principal also championed the first Home Base Iowa career fair held last April.
Humana has presented at several “Best Practices” summit panel discussions as it relates to sourcing, onboarding and retention of service members and their Military Spouses during 2013 and 2014. One of the practices they have fully developed over the past few years is their use of Montage Audio & Video interviewing. This process allows a displaced or transitioning Veteran more flexibility than traditional interview methods. And it was, says Kevin Stakelum, Humana’s Vice President of Talent Acquisition, a practice driven by the realities transitioning veterans face.
“Many veterans and active duty service members aren’t able to do a first interview in person, or even schedule an interview time without severely drawing out the hiring process,” says Stakelum. “Our goal was to give them the flexibility they need and be able to provide a consistent experience at time of process entry. Using this type of technology was ideal, and really compresses the process cycle time.”
Interviews can be live or videotaped at the veteran’s convenience, and can be taped multiple times prior to sending to Humana, which allows the veteran to be far more comfortable with their presentation.
“We can send them a camera to complete the process if they do not have one available. We’ve even had scenarios where the candidate, interviewer, and recruiter complete the qualification process without ever meeting in person,” says Stakelum. “It’s a much more efficient use of time for everyone.”
Accenture continues to utilize technologies in support of its Operation: Employment initiative. Last year, we recognized its Military Career Coach portal, an interactive tool for veterans developed with the assistance of LinkedIn to help service members tackle resumes, prepare for interviews, and build networks that can help launch their civilian careers. This year, their initiatives to prepare more veterans for careers in business technology get our nod.
One such initiative is Accenture’s Veteran Technology Training Program, a two-month training program designed to equip veterans with the technical skills they need pursue technology and software engineering careers.
To deliver this program, Accenture is partnering with Udacity, an online university focused on bridging the gap between real-world skills, relevant education, and employment. Participants selected for the Accenture Veteran Technology Training Program enroll, free of charge, in Udacity’s Intro to Java Programming online program. Successful completion of the Udacity’s program gives all participants the essential background needed to understand today’s technology-based business solutions.
Program graduates are granted interviews with Accenture, and successful hires go on to continue their training through Accenture’s robust training curriculum.
The company also waived its standard college-degree requirement for some positions where military recruits would already have the skills necessary to be job-ready.
Accenture has committed to hiring 5,000 former and active duty members and military spouses in the next five years. The company currently has more than 1,000 veterans in its employ.
Few programs have the clout of Northrop Grumman’s award-winning Operation IMPACT (Injured Military Pursuing Assisted Career Transition) initiative.
Named a “best practice” by the U.S. Department of Labor and Department of Veteran Affairs, Operation IMPACT provides career one-on-one career transition support to severely injured post 9-11 service members or—should he or she be unable to work—-to family members who must act as the primary wage earner. It also provides accommodations and training to help veterans succeed in their post-military employment.
Northrup Grummond works the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for Operation IMPACT referrals, as well as veterans hospitals, vocational and employment rehabilitation counselors, employees, and non-profit organizations. Northrop Grumman also solicits other committed employers to join Operation IMPACT’s Network of Champions. This network was designed to provide a wider variety of employment opportunities that would accommodate all skill sets and geographic preferences.
In 2014, Northrup Grummond was named among the 100 Best Corporate Citizens by Corporate Responsibility Magazine.
This year’s most outstanding use of technology is USAA‘s Employer Road Map, a warehouse of best practices for hiring veterans and military spouses.
Launched at the 2014 Veterans Jobs Summit at Fort Bragg, this free online business resource was designed to bridge the divide between veterans and hiring managers—especially those in small to mid-sized organizations that may lack the training or human resources infrastructure to successfully recruit and hire veterans, active service members or their spouses.
The site takes users down distinct paths, providing different resources for those who feel they need to prepare to hire veterans, those who are ready to begin actively recruiting candidates, and those who want to “empower” other businesses to hire veterans. Articles and case studies, executable action plans and check-lists cover topics from “Understanding Military Culture” to “How to Prepare.”
USAA has hired more than 8,700 veterans and military spouses since 2006. The organization’s goal is that 30 percent of all new hires be made up of veterans or military spouses.
Walmart’s Veterans Welcome Home Commitment was expanded this year, with the goal of hiring 200,000 veterans by 2020. Already on track to exceed its original goal of 100,000 jobs, the retailer has provided short-term and long-term opportunities to 92,000 since the start of its commitment two years ago. Of the career hired, over 8,000 have already been promoted within the organization.
Not only does Walmart deserve recognition in 2015 for more than doubling its original hiring goal, but for its work in supporting veteran entrepreneurs.
There are currently more than 2.5 million veteran-owned small businesses in the U.S., which generate $1.2 trillion in annual sales and employ more than 5.8 million Americans. This year, WalMart Stores was among the 14 founding organizations that helped launch the Coalition for Veteran Owned Business. The goal of the coalition and its member organizations will be to create opportunities for veteran and military-family owned businesses with American businesses and supply chains.
Spearheaded by First Data Corporation and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF), the coalition also includes American Express, BP America, Enterprise Holdings, Inc., FleishmanHillard, KKR & Co. L.P. (KKR), Lockheed Martin Corporation, SunTrust Banks, Inc., USAA, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Verizon Communications Inc., and The Walt Disney Company.
Military and veteran-owned businesses are invited to apply for Walmart’s annual U.S. Manufacturing Summit and Open Call to be held July 7-8 in Bentonville, Arkansas.