Local authorities, NHS trusts and commercial companies spanning engineering, law and construction were among the organisations honoured for their outstanding support for the military at a ceremony to recognise the 2021 winners of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Awards.
Against the stunning backdrop of the Royal Armouries in Leeds, 38 organisations were recognised for the contribution they make to the Armed Forces community in an event jointly hosted by East Midlands RFCA, North West RFCA and the RFCA for Yorkshire and the Humber.
Employers big and small
Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenants from across those regions attended as a mark of honour to the achievements of the Gold Award winners. Winners ranged from small and medium-sized family companies to large organisations employing many thousands of people, such as North East Lincolnshire Council and Morrisons supermarkets. What all of them had in common was brilliant HR practices that support staff that serve or have served in the military.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Leo Docherty, was guest speaker and said: “I would like to thank all the organisations who have proven their support for the defence community during such unprecedented and challenging times.
“The vast range of those recognised this year demonstrates how employing the Armed Forces community makes a truly positive and beneficial impact for all employers, regardless of size, sector or location.”
To win an award, all the organisations provide ten extra paid days leave for serving reserve soldiers and cadet force adult volunteers so they can attend camps and training events. They must also have supportive policies in place for veterans, reserves and cadet force adult volunteers as well as the spouses and partners of those serving in the Armed Forces.
Eight of the winners were from Yorkshire and the Humber:
VICTVS, education technology company, Leeds
Chief executive Ben Clayson, said: “At VICTVS we are extremely proud to have received the 2021 ERS Gold Award. As a business founded by, and employing service personnel, we understand the challenges and benefits of working with the Armed Forces mindset. It is a real privilege to receive this acknowledgement and we look forward to finding new ways to support the forces community in the years ahead.”
North East Lincolnshire Council
Council leader Coun Philip Jackson said: “This is great for the council, and for North East Lincolnshire. We are fully committed to supporting our nation’s Armed Forces community and do everything we can to support those who serve as well as veterans and their families.
“We will continue our commitment and support other employers who are part of the Armed Forces community.”
NG Bailey, Ilkley
Human resources director Rob Smith said: “We are extremely proud to have been honoured with a Gold Award. We see the huge benefits that ex-military, reservist or cadet forces personnel bring our business through their breadth of aptitude, skills and training. We’re always looking at ‘what can we do better’ and continue to provide internal Armed Forces networking opportunities and workshops to see how we can develop and enhance our recruitment, careers, training and development opportunities.”
MB Roche & Sons Ltd, Hessle, Hull
Director Daniel Roche said: “As a small family firm this means the world to us and more than winning a contract or being placed on a framework. It highlights our vision to do things for the outcome rather than the income. We are not a family with a military background but have loved every moment on our journey from offering work experience opportunities to veterans and cadets all the way up to attending prestigious events at the Tower of London.”
South Yorkshire Police
Chief inspector of operational police training Dave Struggles said: “The force recognises the value of employing military service leavers, reservists and cadet force volunteers within our ranks. There are a raft of transferable skills, talent and experience gained within the military which is invaluable. Core qualities such as respect for others, moral courage, commitment, loyalty, discipline, selflessness and integrity, coupled with the strong focus on service, teamwork and leadership are essential within the armed services and map across to the desired attributes we expect and value within our own workforce.”
Irwin Mitchell, Sheffield
Group Chief Executive Andrew Tucker said: “After an extraordinary and challenging year, it is a pleasure to receive an ERS Gold Award on behalf of Irwin Mitchell.
“Our commitment to the Forces community and the Armed Forces Covenant remains strong and we remain as active as ever in recruiting ex-servicemen and women and in acting for hundreds of veterans in military claims.
“We are proud to recognise and support our military communities and this Gold Award demonstrates that we are among the best employers in Britain for veterans and Reservists alike.”
Wm Morrison Supermarkets Limited
Corporate affairs director David Scott said:”We owe a tremendous debt to members of the armed forces because of the enormous contribution they make to our country both during and after their service. We are extremely proud to receive this award which is wonderful recognition of the efforts of our teams and colleagues across the business in supporting both former and serving armed forces personnel.”
Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones said: “Doncaster is immensely proud of its fantastic Armed Forces Community, both those who serve and those who have served. It has been a key priority for me as Mayor of Doncaster, alongside our Veteran’s Champion, to deliver on our commitment to ensuring that those who have served our country are not disadvantaged in any way when they return to “Civvy Street” and back into our communities.
“We are delighted to have received the Gold Employers Recognition Scheme Award for our commitment to our Armed Forces Employees. The benefits are numerous in supporting people to settle and live well in Doncaster following their Armed Forces Service and together with their families, they are active contributors to our communities, employment, businesses and all aspects of life.”