A program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Since the start of the Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses campaign, more than 100 companies have either already hired or committed to hire military spouses by 2021.
“These companies have realized that military spouses are a workforce solution. Military spouses are tenacious, well-rounded, generally possess a higher level of education than the general populations, and they aren’t afraid to think outside the box,” said Hiring Our Heroes Senior Director of Military Spouse Programs Elizabeth O’Brien.
Amanda didn’t expect her role as an Army wife to impact her professional career. But after six relocations in 16 years, she found herself pulled in an emotional tug-o-war between supporting her service member and chasing her career aspirations She also started to believe that her military spouse status was more of a hinderance than an asset.
Then Amanda was the 100th military spouse hired by Freedom Learning Group since 2017. In celebration of hiring its 100th military spouse, this veteran-owned digital courseware developer joined the Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses campaign. Freedom Learning Group’s current total of military spouse hires is 158, according to Freedom Learning Group President Stacey Ecelbarger.
“Since I was a military spouse myself, I wanted to find a way to help military spouses repurpose their professions and passions,” Ecelbarger said. “We’ve committed to hiring a total of 1,000 military spouses by 2021, but we hope to surpass this goal and hire even more.”
In June 2018, Hiring Our Heroes, in collaboration with a founding coalition of partners, launched the Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses campaign. This ambitious three-year campaign calls for companies and businesses, of all sizes, across America to make a collective commitment to hire 100,000 military spouses. To date, Hiring Our Heroes has received 12,300 commitments.
At the campaign’s launch announcement, Amazon, Blackstone, Blue Star Families, Capital One, CarMax, Comcast NBCUniversal, HCA Healthcare, Hilton, La Quinta by Wyndham, Microsoft, Prudential Financial, Starbucks USAA, and WWC joined as founding coalition partners of the Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses campaign.
Since then, a variety of industries have answered the call to hire military spouses. Some companies are virtual workplaces, like Freedom Learning Group; others are defense contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton. The list of committed companies includes a sheriff’s department in Maryland, a university in California, and a transportation and logistics company headquartered in Nebraska. Visit Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses for a list of the companies that have made the commitment.
“The Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses campaign is doing more than matching qualified military spouses with military-ready companies, we are helping to bridge the civilian-military divide in cities throughout the country,” O’Brien said. “Through this campaign, hundreds of hiring managers are looking at military spouse resumes through a new perspective. Instead of seeing a worker who will move after two years, they are recognizing how this talented and professional individual will benefit their company.”
Many small businesses have committed to hiring as few as one military spouse while a handful of national corporations pledged to hire as many as 1,500.
Founder and CEO of FlexJobs Sara Sutton recognized that military spouse unemployment and underemployment is a significant issue and wanted to be part of the solution. Military spouses are unemployed at a rate of 16%, over four times the rate of their civilian counterparts.
“As an American, this is frustrating and feels deeply wrong,” Sutton said.
In August 2018, FlexJobs made a commitment to hire military spouses to fill 5% of its open vacancies.
“From a professional perspective, hiring military spouses is a fantastic opportunity to hire amazing talent! We have found that remote and flexible work can help bridge the gap for this group of valuable, talented, qualified professionals whose lives don’t necessarily fit with traditional on-site work,” Sutton said.
Rackspace became the 100th company to make the commit to hire military spouses in April 2019.
“It is an honor to join so many phenomenal ‘military passionate’ companies that are on the same mission, one dedicated to hiring military spouses into competitive careers,” said Samantha Domingo, military talent and technical recruiter at Rackspace.
The Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses campaign isn’t only about new hires. Companies have the option of committing to track their current military spouse employees. Many organizations already have military spouses on their payrolls and don’t know it because they’ve never asked their employees to self-identify as military spouses.
“Many companies have been hiring military spouses for years, but never tracked how many military spouses work at their organizations – now they are,” O’Brien said.
“The decisions families make to join, stay, or leave the all-volunteer military could negatively impact our national security for years to come. In an era of persistent conflict, our country cannot afford such threats to our military readiness,” O’Brien said.
The Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses campaign matters to Navy spouses like Jill. Jill is a civil engineer and she was the first military spouse Freedom Learning Group hired. In just over two years she has been promoted three times. Jill now leads a team of more than 30 military spouse subject matter experts in economics, statistics, math, and science courses as a Senior Project Director.
It matters to Toni. As an Air Force spouse, Toni has moved eight times in the last 18 years. Early on in her military life, she knew she’d have to get creative in terms of growing her career. Toni now works for FlexJobs as a career coach.
“Working at FlexJobs means portability for my career – I don’t worry anymore about having to find employment when we move,” Toni said. “Uprooting a family is hard, even when it’s expected. Being able to have consistent employment throughout those stressful times has alleviated a lot of stress for my husband and I.”
It matters to Lindsey, a chemist and Air Force spouse. After experiencing career challenges following numerous PCS rotations, Lindsey was hired by Freedom Learning Group to author student resources in science titles. In less than a year, Lindsey was Senior Project Director leading a team of military spouse scientists and working as a project manager on one of the world’s leading biology textbooks.
It matters to Amanda, Freedom Learning Group’s 100th military spouse hire. Amanda started in an administrative role and has excelled at a rapid pace. Amanda is now juggling multiple roles with Freedom Learning Group in addition to her admin support role.
“Having an employer that values a range of experience and understands that military spouses need to be heroes at home, but also need fulfilling employment is what makes Freedom Learning Group the answer for me,” Amanda said.
Sutton said that the military spouses bring a unique and valuable perspective to their work.
“They have a strong sense of accountability and reliability, they’re highly adaptable, and they work extremely well independently – all key qualities of successful remote and flexible professionals,” Sutton said. “And because our mission is to help make people’s lives better through flexible work, their distinct experiences bring added depth and understanding to this work.”
Hiring a military spouse isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do, Ecelbarger said.
“We look forward to making military spouse underemployment a thing of the past,” Ecelbarger said.
© 2020 HIRING OUR HEROES - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
A Program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation