Sodexo, a leading global services company, has announced its commitment to support SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity’s latest campaign, Friendly to Forces. The campaign is calling for more UK companies to challenge their perceptions about hiring service leavers, as their new research reveals concerning misconceptions over the benefits of hiring ex-servicemen or women. 

Sodexo has supported SSAFA for over 14 years and is proud to be one of the first to sign up to this new campaign. As a proud partner to SSAFA Sodexo already provides valuable support with sponsorship, employee volunteering and fundraising, and through Sodexo’s Stop Hunger Foundation funds SSAFA’s homelessness fund.

Friendly to ForcesAs an early signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant, Sodexo is committed to the continual support in the employment of ex-armed forces personnel and their families as well as those employees who are members of the Reserves. A commitment which has extended to its Public Service Pledge which includes an annual target to employ 200 ex-service personnel and their families.

Rachel Evans, HR Director, Government & Agencies, Sodexo UK & Ireland said:

Sodexo is proud to support and provide employment opportunities at every level to those leaving the military. SSAFA’s latest campaign is a positive step in encouraging businesses to look at the skills ex-service men and women can offer.

“As an employer we recognise the value, knowledge, talent, qualities and skills that ex-service personnel and their families bring to our organisation.  We also understand the challenges they encounter when transitioning from military into civilian life and are currently developing an employee support network specifically aimed at employees with a military background and reservists. 

Research published by SSAFA has revealed that British ex-service personnel struggle to find work due to mental health stigma. According to the research almost half (46%) of UK recruiters worry about hiring a service leaver in case they had mental health issues and over a third (31%) of recruiters stated they feel reluctant to hire someone who had previously served.

SSAFA’s research also reveals the divide in understanding veterans in the workplace is profound. As on the other side of opinion, 43% say they would feel proud to work alongside a service leaver. In fact, workers cited being a team player (57%), driven (43%), a problem solver (42%), resilient (41%), quick thinking (40%) as qualities they associate with service leavers.

James Grant, head of corporate fundraising and events, SSAFA says: "One of the many selling points of joining the Armed Forces is learning skills that can be easily transferred into civilian life. Sadly, some businesses still don’t recognise these skills and service leavers are being discriminated against. We see that there’s also a false perception over Armed Forces personnel suffering from mental health issues. Mental health is a common condition affecting 1 in 4 people every year – service leaver or not."

A career in service to our country should always be met with pride and gratitude. That’s why we have launched our Friendly to Forces campaign, to challenge all businesses to do better when hiring service leavers.

Sodexo’s support of SSAFA’s new Friendly to Forces campaign complements its work with the Defence Relationship Management (DRM) which includes its work with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP), as well as being recognised in 2017 with the Gold Employer Recognition Award for the company’s commitment and efforts to support the entire Armed Force community through its strong policies which include:

  • the positive recruitment of ex-military personnel
  • the provision of employment opportunities for the spouses of service personnel posted into areas where Sodexo holds a contract
  • a flexible approach to granting leave for employees which are members of the Reserves 
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