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Leon Kaye headshot

Society Supports Veterans – But Can Companies Do More?

By Leon Kaye

Widespread support for veterans across U.S. society is a given. Recently, Just Capital undertook research to find out what that “support” actually means and concluded that such a commitment must extend to corporate America. The group’s poll found that 87 percent of more than 3,000 people surveyed said companies should take responsibility in hiring American veterans.

That overwhelming level of support is hardly surprising when it turns out half of the respondents said they had a family member serving in active duty – or were themselves currently enlisted. Include friends in that quotient, and it’s only natural to understand how knowing a veteran can become a deeply personal experience – and why many Americans have higher expectations for how our institutions treat men and women who served in the military, especially those who fought in combat.

But despite many companies’ public support for veterans and the men and women currently serving in uniform, there’s a gap in what’s communicated and what the general public perceives: 57 percent of the same survey participants said that most companies are not doing enough to recruit, hire and thereby lend help to veterans.

Such a gap can be largely linked to corporate transparency or a lack thereof: According to Just Capital, about two-thirds of the companies within the Russell 1000 fall short on disclosures when it comes time to disclose how exactly they support and work with veterans. Only 37 percent of these companies say they have a specific program in place for recruiting former members of the military; 36 percent publicly share their veterans’ supplier policies. Less than one-quarter have either policy in place, and almost half of the companies lack any at all.

The data suggests veterans, once hired, have an overall high rate of retention and promotion. The problem that many former military face, however, is being able to get that foot in the door. Then, once hired, it is clear veterans often find they are stifled: A recent Korn Ferry report said 43 percent of veterans leave their first civilian job after a year; 80 percent exit after the second year. One outcome is that about one-third of all U.S. veterans have reported that they are under-employed.

The bottom line is that along with the rest of U.S. society, companies are also quick to say that they support our troops and veterans. Supporting them once they are hired, however, too often turns out as a different story.

Just Capital points to one program that’s an example of how companies can step up as they recruit, hire and commit to veterans. The Veterans Jobs Mission launched a decade ago as a coalition of 11 companies that said together were  determined to hire 100,000 veterans by 2020. That group has since morphed into a far larger organization to 250 companies with a goal to hire 1 million veterans. As of now, the total number of veterans hired stands at about 750,000 hired in total, according to the organization. Companies that participate in this program have access to tools including resources for HR professionals, a mentorship program guide and ideas for launching employee resource groups specifically for veterans. The roster of participating companies participating with this coalition represent an A to Z list across the business community, from Accenture to Zurich.

Such cooperation on the behalf of companies offers a start. But it is clear other stakeholders can exert their own pressure to ensure any veteran has a fair shot at participating in the U.S. economy. Consumers can take action, and as Just Capital’s research reveals, they are already doing so: a majority of survey respondents who include a family member as a veteran are more included to support and buy from companies that run a veterans’ hiring program.

Investors can do their part as well, and tools are already at hand. The Vets Indexes, for example, has developed two indices that include companies leading on the support, hiring and retainment of veterans. From Vets Indexes’ point of view, the skill sets and training that many a veteran can bring to the table in the long run should only help a company’s overall performance.

Just Capital certainly buys into that argument. Its own research showed that Russell 1000 companies that lead on hiring and doing business with veterans slightly outperformed the overall market in the 10 months leading up to September 2021.

Image credit: Ian MacDonald via Unsplash


Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye