I was asked the question recently why our company specifically targets veterans in our recruiting efforts and what we do for them once they come on board. This is a topic I enjoy talking about because I see so many meaningful endeavors here at Shaw.
First of all, why wouldn’t we want to target veterans to come work for our company? One of the basic elements of life in the military is serving your country. You can go to any military branch’s website and see the word “HONOR”. The fundamental tenet of military life is honorable service. Any company would be proud to have men and women who hold that as a guiding principle. Also, we understand that the armed forces teach teamwork, efficiency under pressure and the persistence needed to overcome obstacles. Those are qualities that every organization needs. We would be foolish not to actively seek out people with this kind of background. We go to career fairs just for veterans and even get to go onto some bases and meet with people who are transitioning to civilian life. So, one thing that we do when we recruit is to consider how military service may translate to our positions and requirements.
In recruiting, whatever is listed as a “requirement” must be visible in an applicant’s materials or they cannot be considered for the role. What we know, though, is that someone who has been in the military may have similar expertise or transferable skills without necessarily meeting the requirements as stated. So on our job postings when we say, “Our Nation’s veterans bring an extraordinary array of skills and training to any position. Shaw actively works to understand how these skills can translate to our job categories. Shaw will consider an applicant’s military service and work experience when determining whether a candidate meets the requirements of a posted job,” what we are saying is that we recognize that while the nature of the experiences may be different, the competencies that military service brings with it are not. We are saying that we thoughtfully try to discern how a veteran’s experience relates to our requirements. That way, we don’t miss someone who may be qualified in the military in a different facet, but who would be able to move into one of our roles due to the transferable skills and competencies their service has provided them. What we have found by doing this is that we have acquired some very talented people that we may have otherwise missed.
Recruitment is not a one-way street. There has to be something about your organization that makes your new hires want to stay. Recruiting veterans is no different. We want to get great, talented people in the door, sure. But if there’s nothing that takes hold of them once they get here, they won’t stay. One way we support our military associates is with an employee resource group we call ShawVet.
ShawVet essentially started as a recruitment initiative designed to bring more military veterans into the fold of our organization. Over the two years ShawVet has been in existence however, it has morphed into more of a support system to serve vets once they are here. Currently at 150+ members strong, ShawVet provides services to deployed Shaw associates and their families as well as provides service and support in the greater community. There are company-wide collections for care packages to be sent not only to Shaw associates, but to family members of Shaw associates who are deployed in efforts around the globe. Additionally, this year alone has seen a school supply drive alongside the National Guard in the North Georgia area as well as a House Build initiative called Steps to Hope also in North Georgia.
Because ShawVet is still in its relative infancy, it has thus far been of benefit mainly to the North Georgia area as that is our largest concentration of associates. However, the membership of ShawVet recognizes the need for bridging that gap between service and civilian life for associates who go to work in our outlying locations. The organization is currently eyeing ways to expand its reach beyond just the immediate area.
Shaw was proud to recently be recognized for our support of veterans with both the Pro Patia award as well as the Seven Seals Award. These awards were both to recognize Shaw’s significant support of associates in the National Guard and Reserve. Chester Chaffin, VP of Enterprise Excellence as well as the leadership sponsor of ShawVet had this to say of our awards, “The leadership skills and technical expertise that veterans bring to our workforce that includes diversity of background and of thought. We are proud that Shaw’s commitment to those associates who also serve in the armed forces has been recognized by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).” Given that ShawVet is still rather new, it will be exciting to see the kinds of things the group will do one…five…ten years into the future.
In addition to ShawVet, our company also recognizes service members with a Veterans Day luncheon and hosts events like networking opportunities, leadership speakers and the like. Anything we can do to help bridge the gap between service and civilian life, we want to be able to offer to the men and women who have so selflessly served our country.
So anytime I am asked how Shaw supports the military, I am grateful I have so many efforts I can discuss. Our organization values the skills, talents and experience these men and women bring with them to our workforce and does everything to support them once they honor us by choosing to come onboard. If you check back with us over time, I know you will see many more exciting initiatives and programs. To all who have served–you have our company’s, as well as our country’s, respect and gratitude.
Deane Osner is the Senior Talent Acquisition Manager for Shaw Industries, Inc. with responsibility for high volume recruiting and recruitment operations. He has over 20 years of progressive recruitment experience and serves as a board member for DirectEmployers. He is a graduate of Lee University. He is also been married for 19 years with a 15 year old daughter and 11 year old son.