Veterans Day offers a chance to remember and give thanks to those who served
ABB employee resource group celebrates and supports vets
“Veterans Day reflects freedom, sacrifice and honor,” says James Fox, North America Customer Service Director at ABB’s Installation Products division in Charlotte, NC and president of the company’s Encompass Military & Allies employee resource group (ERG). “It’s a day of remembrance of loved ones that have served and are serving in the defense of our country. It’s also a chance to thank all the men and women that have sacrificed for the continuing freedom we enjoy every day.”
Fox is a veteran of the US Army, having served in the signal corps ensuring communications between artillery units. Typically that was by radio, but in the event of a failure, his team would run physical wire from foxhole to foxhole. He joined ABB through the acquisition of GE Industrial Solutions in 2018 and took over as head of the employee resource group in July 2020.
Fox is quick to point out the many benefits of hiring vets (e.g., they tend to be adaptable, versatile, and self-motivated), but he also stresses that the ERG is more than the servicemembers themselves. Spouses, family, friends and coworkers all play a role in supporting both active and retired military servicemembers.
Did you know?
Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, marking the suspension of hostilities in World War I, which took place on November 11, 1918. It was deemed a federal holiday in 1938, and in 1954 the name was changed to “Veterans Day” to honor veterans of all wars.
Vets are more likely to be hired, accept a job offer, and stay at the company for a longer period of time than those without a military background.
Only 14% of the U.S. military’s hundreds of career fields are combat specialties. The other career fields have direct civilian counterparts, especially in construction, engineering and medicine.
Unemployment is often lower for veterans than for non-military workers. As of Oct 2022, US unemployment stood at 3.5% overall compared to just 2.6% for vets.
Supporting the veterans in our lives isn’t always easy, often because vets are famously private about their time in the military, even the good parts. But through Encompass Military & Allies, Fox hopes to encourage more veterans to share their stories. The group has begun a series in which members share photos and stories from their time in the service, and so far, it’s gone over well.
“Four or five people lined up immediately to do it,” says Fox. “I quickly realized that a 30 minute meeting wasn’t going to be enough, but not one person drops off if it runs long.”
Another area the ERG can make an impact is by focusing on helping vets who are recently retired or who are preparing to transition to civilian life. ABB works with a military recruiter, but Fox says it’s not easy for HR professionals to understand how military occupational specialties map to job roles at ABB.
“We see the Encompass group as a point of contact for our members within the company,” he explains. “We’re not subject matter experts but we can send you to the right people,” which might mean anything from finding the right person in another department to answer a question to finding a marriage counselor or therapist to help with personal issues.
Going forward, Fox hopes to establish local chapters of Encompass Military & Allies that will form closer connections with the local community. For now, when asked how people can support the veterans in their lives, Fox has a simple answer: just listen.