The daily Flag Retreat ceremony at Walt Disney World is just one way the company supports and honors military veterans.
In the weeks following U.S. President Donald Trump’s first attempt to ban travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries, Starbucks caught heat for an odd reason: a pledge to hire 10,000 refugees.
Angry social media users called for a boycott and complained that the coffee chain was giving preferential treatment to refugees while American military veterans remained out of work. This prompted Starbucks to remind customers of its robust veteran hiring initiative, which it bolstered even further in response to the kerfuffle.
As a publication focused on socially-responsible business, this conflict struck us as odd. After all, plenty of diversity groups struggle to find work — from military veterans and refugees to people with disabilities or marks on their criminal record. There’s more than enough need to go around, and any program that seeks to give at-risk groups a shot at employment is a win in our book.
With that in mind, this week we tip our hats to corporate hiring programs looking to make a difference the old-fashioned way: with a job.
“We know what it means to serve” is the time-honored slogan of financial services provider USAA. But the company insists it’s more than a catch phrase.
The company has long offered competitive financial products and benefits to veterans, which they can pass on to their children free of charge. But the company’s active veteran hiring program is less widely known.
The company strives to tap veterans and military spouses for 30 percent of its new hires — on the way to achieving 25 percent military employee representation by 2020.
The company employs six distinct hiring, training and recruitment programs to support veteran employees — from veteran-to-veteran mentoring programs to an internal resource group.
Hiring people with disabilities
Hiring people with disabilities is close to EY’s heart. The company’s co-founder, Arthur Young, was deaf with low vision — a challenge that prompted him to leave his law career, move into the accounting field, and start the company then known as Ernst and Young.
The company says it integrates “ergonomics and accessibility into our offices, technologies, tools and business processes.” And it claims this flexible work environment allows employees with disabilities and those recovering from illness or injury to continue to do their jobs comfortably.
The company hosts four employee networks for workers with disabilities, as well as caregivers and the parents of children with special needs. It continues to emphasize hiring of people with all abilities, and in 2015 Diversity Inc. magazine ranked it as the top company for employees with disabilities.
The Walt Disney Co. — which includes Disney, ESPN, Marvel and more — announced its Heroes Work Here program back in 2012. The company initially planned to hire 1,000 veterans over three years — a goal it blew past in mere months.
The company also hosted the Disney Veterans Institute in 2013, which brought together hundreds of companies and organizations looking to hire veterans.
“Through our groundbreaking Heroes Work Here initiative, we’ve hired more than 8,000 vets across our company — and helped another 15,000 find jobs outside of Disney,” Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger said at a shareholders meeting in 2015.
The company also boosted its support of veteran-owned businesses from $100,000 to $3.3 million in 2015, Iger said.
Although it doesn’t have a formal target, Chobani is arguably the world’s top company for hiring refugees. Founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya hails from what is now largely Kurdish Eastern Turkey and emigrated to the U.S. in 1994.
After going on to found the multibillion-dollar Greek yogurt company, he remained a steadfast recruiter of immigrants and refugees — a practice that attracted boycotts and even death threats.
But Ulukaya didn’t back down. Today, about 30 percent of Chobani’s factory employees are resettled refugees. For more companies leading in refugee hiring, check out this list from Fast Company.
In May of last year, Sprint teamed up with former President Barack Obama and the White House on a broad-sweeping veteran hiring initiative.
After years of building its veteran employee network, Sprint pledged to hire 2,500 veterans as part of Joining Forces, a White House initiative aimed at securing civilian careers for veterans and their families.
Sprint is one of more than 50 leading U.S. telecommunications and technology companies that pledged to hire a combined 100,000 veterans and military spouses by 2021.
6. Pop! Gourmet Foods
Hiring the formerly incarcerated
David Israel came up with the idea for Pop! Gourmet Foods while serving time in prison for four years. He has since grown the purveyor of gourmet popcorn and chips into a multimillion-dollar company with distribution in 19 countries. And he still emphasizes hiring formerly incarcerated people like him.
“Immediately, I hired my first cellmate as our fourth employee,” he told Civil Eats last year. “We started working with the Department of Corrections, and they’d send us people out of work release.”
Today, about 20 percent of Pop!’s staff was formerly incarcerated. For more companies that seek to hire the formerly incarcerated, check out our list here.
Hiring people with disabilities
People with disabilities represent America’s largest diversity group, says professional services company PwC. The firm first formalized disabilities initiatives as part of its talent strategy back in 2009.
Since then, it has steadily rolled out programs to recruit, hire and support employees with disabilities. It now offers an employee network for staffers with disabilities and a host of programs to support these employees. By 2014, the company’s efforts nearly tripled the number of PwC staff who self-disclosed their disability status.
The company took its effort to the next level that year with the launch of its Ability Reveals Itself program, which seeks to foster every employee’s unique skills and harness them into fitting careers. The company also works directly with schools to recruit and place students with disabilities, Brad Hopton, a tax partner and disability inclusion networks partner champion at PwC, told 3p last year.
8. Pacific Gas and Electric
PG&E launched its 1,000 Careers Project in 2015, with the goal of hiring 1,000 veterans into skilled positions over eight years.
“This effort is about more than providing veterans with a paycheck. It’s about creating opportunities for them to build successful, long-term careers,” Laura Butler, PG&E vice president of talent management and inclusion and chief diversity officer, said in a statement. ” As a nation, we have the duty to make sure veterans have access to good career opportunities when transitioning back to civilian life.”
The California gas and electric company is no stranger to hiring veterans. But its latest initiative looks to take things a step further — offering ongoing support for veteran hires and looking to support veteran-owned suppliers.
9. Procter and Gamble
Hiring people with disabilities
Procter and Gamble is looking to transform its manufacturing plants by hiring more people with disabilities: More than 40 percent of the staff at its plant in Auburn, Maine, have some form of developmental or physical disability.
“This model — as well as others like it at our Lima, Ohio, and Dover, Delaware, plants — is being pursued across other U.S. manufacturing and distribution sites,” P&G said in 2014.
The company hosts an internal network for employees with disabilities and continues to emphasize this group in hiring.
American railway company CSX is a proud military-friendly employer. 1 in 5 CSX employees has served in the military. And the company says it is “actively seeking employees with the experience of service in the American armed forces” to join its ranks.
By Mary Mazzoni
Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is the senior editor of TriplePundit. She is also a freelance journalist with a passion for storytelling and sustainability. Her work has appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News, Earth911, the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands and the Daily Meal.
Mary is a lifelong vegetarian with an interest in climate resilience, clean tech and social justice. You can contact her at [email protected]
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