New Polls Show Americans Believe Corporations Should Help Veterans Find Work

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(U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Krystal Wright)

An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that U.S. companies should be recruiting military veterans. That's one of the key findings of a new survey from JUST Capital and the Harris Poll.

JUST Capital is an independent nonprofit that tracks, analyzes and engages with large corporations and their investors on how they perform on public priorities, using that data to drive investment decisions for what the company calls a “more just economy.”

The result of this investment mission is a series of annual polls and analyses. Its most recent findings, released on Veterans Day 2021, analyzes how companies are currently performing when it comes to supporting the American veteran workforce.

It asked 3,058 Americans how their beliefs regarding corporate responsibility. Results show most American believe corporations can best support the veteran population while helping the overall economy.

Underemployment is a more pervasive issue for veterans than unemployment. Underemployment is defined as being employed in a lower-paying or part-time job despite having more advanced experience, skills or credentials. While the unemployment rate among veterans is consistently lower than non-veteran unemployment, vets are 34% more likely to be underemployed.

Meanwhile, less than a third of veterans believe military experience will have a positive impact on getting the job they want. Most think employers would rather hire a civilian than someone with military experience and ignore veterans' applications. That’s what a University of Phoenix poll that asked vets and active-duty service members about their transition outlook found.

The University of Phoenix poll also revealed that veterans believe that potential employers believe most veterans come with mental health concerns and don't have skills relevant to the jobs for which they apply.

Veterans polled by the university also acknowledge their shortcomings when it comes to skills. Most believe that the military has properly prepared them for civilian life, but that they require more education to be successful. Some say they are also lacking in the computer software skills needed by civilians looking for work today, but they know education and computer skills are things they need to seek out.

When it comes to corporate responsibility for providing an opportunity to learn these skills, the JUST Capital poll reveals Americans also believe corporate CEOs should be addressing issues of importance to American society. When it comes to veteran employment, 87% of respondents believe corporate leaders have a responsibility to recruit veteran talent actively.

Hiring veterans is just the start, however. A third of survey responses say that hiring vets is the primary way companies can support them, but almost the same number believe companies should develop training, skills and mentorship programs for their veteran employees. Around 22% say creating a more inclusive culture is the best way forward.

U.S. companies providing vets with the skills to succeed in the civilian sector could be a boost for those companies, because Americans are willing to put their pocketbooks behind their words. Fifty-one percent of respondents say they would favor companies with such recruiting programs when making a buying decision, yet only 37% of the Russell 1000 Index, America's top 1,000 companies (by market share), have disclosed veteran hiring policies.

In fact, companies that do actively recruit veterans and develop programs for veterans to gain the skills needed for success in the civilian workforce are more profitable and have stock prices that perform better than those who don't have such programs. They also perform better, with a higher return on equity than companies who don't foster veteran talent.

Between the two November 2021 surveys, the results are clear. Veterans need more skills to be successful when leaving the military, while Americans believe corporations have a responsibility to recruit vets and develop those skills. In return, the public is willing to reward those companies for their efforts.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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