Ensuring that support for the military-connected community is at the heart of a company’s human resources approach is a hallmark of the Military Times’ Best for Vets: Employers rankings.
In 2023, the highest-ranking companies and agencies dedicated employees to veteran recruitment efforts and provided ongoing advocacy and assistance to veterans and their spouses, qualities that stood out among their peers.
At financial services firm Fiserv, which jumped from No. 9 last year to earn the top ranking this year, a commitment to veterans starts across the C-suite and includes not just recruiting and hiring but support systems all through a veteran’s employment, including for those employees called to active duty, said Vice President Meg Hendricks, head of military and veteran affairs.
“Our goals are of providing the military community with career opportunities, educational resources and business solutions,” said Hendricks, an Army veteran.
The 2023 survey included 230 employer participants and aimed to provide a snapshot of where firms stand on employment policies, recruiting and hiring veterans with disabilities, overall hiring practices, and support services that bolster America’s veterans.
Participation in the company rankings is voluntary, and the final list is not meant to be a comprehensive accounting of the policies of all defense contractors and U.S. businesses.
The rankings focus on areas of importance to veterans in the workplace, including mentorship programs, military-specific training opportunities, and connections with the veterans community. The 2023 rankings included three new companies — Fiserv, U.S. Bank and L’Oreal USA — in the top five.
Many of Fiserv’s veterans programs fall under its “Fiserv Salutes” initiative, which aims to provide the military-connected community with job opportunities, education resources, and business solutions for companies owned by veterans.
The Ontario, California-based Fiserv is also a co-leader and founding member of the Coalition for Veteran Owned Businesses and participates in a $14 million partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University in New York.
The goal is keeping a focus on veterans at every stage of their interactions, Hendricks said. “How are they going to be connected when they get here? How are we going to support them if they’re going out on military leave?” she said.
Comcast NBCUniversal, moving up to No. 2 this year from No. 3 in 2022, believes the skills and experiences possessed by military-connected employees make the business a better company, said Mona Dexter, vice president of military and veteran affairs.
“Not only is it important to hire because it is good for the business to have a strong and diverse workforce from the military community, we definitely want them to continue to thrive and grow and give them that space to do so with our support,” she said.
Dexter noted that the firm was founded by World War II veteran Ralph Roberts, meaning support for military employees is intrinsically rooted in the company.
One of Comcast’s premier programs is its Military Concierge Service initiative, which involves a team of human resources professionals who help service members seamlessly transition to and from active military duty.
Comcast NBCUniversal also prides itself on making up the financial difference if an employee is called to active duty and their military pay is less than their Comcast salary.
The company was also named a 2023 Leading Disability Employer by the National Organization on Disability, based on data that tracks several focus areas, including veterans’ inclusion.
At the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services — which jumped to No. 9 from 16th in 2022 — the agency developed a Military Veteran Peer Support system under retired Army Maj. Monique Ruiz, the organization’s military liaison and human relations specialist.
That system links up members of the military-connected community, including veterans, spouses and military orphans with fellow military personnel in the agency, dubbed “Battle Buddies.”
The agency, with about 700 employees with military backgrounds, also offers access to a Military Affinity Group with subgroups in such categories as women veterans, disabled veterans, military spouses and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The agency also offers an additional eight hours of leave each year to military-connected employees as a thank-you. Ruiz likens this outreach to the support a company might offer employees with different cultural, religious or linguistic backgrounds.
Finding a home
Veterans, especially those who might be coming from less military-friendly working environments, appreciate the philosophy, Ruiz said.
“They feel that, okay, now I have someone that understands what I’m going through and then can educate my management and staff on it,” she said.
At Hilton, which rose to No. 10 this year (from 14th in 2022), the company — founded by World War I veteran Conrad Hilton — has always believed veterans are the perfect fit for the hotel and hospitality industry, said J.D. Barnes, vice president for workforce innovation and optimization.
“We inherently believe that veterans play an important part in our continued growth and, in return, we offer a shared set of values, great workplace flexibility and diverse range of on-property and corporate roles across guest services, finance, engineering and technology, among other teams, that provide them the opportunity to use their unique skills,” Barnes said.
Since 2014, the company has partnered with Hiring Our Heroes, which connects members of the military community with business opportunities, to support its veteran recruiting efforts.
In addition, through Hilton’s ”Operation: Opportunity” initiative, the company has hired more than 35,000 veterans to date, an employee population the company says is recognized as the largest in the hospitality industry and among the biggest in the U.S. private sector.
Among other programs, Hilton also offers a Military Team Member Resource Group for employees who have served in the military, as well as their spouses and children, and other members of the military-connected community.
“We recognize and value the important and transferable skills of our nation’s veterans and prioritize the offering of robust learning and development opportunities,” Barnes said.