More than 200 employees of the Principal Financial Group® are self-reported veterans. So when we received the 2011 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award by the U.S. Department of Defense — the highest recognition given to employers for exceptional support of their employees serving in the Guard and Reserve — it was a big deal to us.
The award validates the work we do to support military employees. It’s also a testament to the compassion and care our employees show their deployed teammates and military families.
This compassion grew stronger with the formation of our Veterans Employee Resource Group (VERG), designed to create a community of support and a venue for networking, development and community outreach.
"I'm excited to formalize the support The Principal has shown our veterans for so long," says Larry Zimpleman, chairman, president and CEO of The Principal. "And I'm perhaps most excited to have the resource group facilitate greater understanding among all employees of issues and opportunities related to veterans, active military and their family members."
"Veterans are involved in a variety of work at all levels of our organization," says Lynda Friede, counsel at The Principal and advisor to VERG. "They bring with them experience, discipline, leadership and teamwork skills that can benefit any area of The Principal."
"Our vision is to create a work environment that recognizes and supports the service and sacrifices our veterans have made," says Sara Lee, an administrative assistant at The Principal and co-communications chair for VERG. "At the same time, we want to continue to foster an inclusive environment with respect to attracting, hiring and retaining veterans."
The VERG leadership team is made up of veterans and non-veterans from across the organization. Their mission is to provide education, opportunities and activities for veterans and non-veterans in support of The Principal veteran community and the external veteran community. In addition to current employees, VERG hopes to attract, identify and retain veteran employees for their unique skills and life experiences.
Some of their first initiatives included veteran-focused job fairs such as Hiring Our Heroes and the William Penn Career Summit to promote career opportunities and networking.
Our Employee Resource Groups are just one way we foster an inclusive environment for our employees. Open to all employees, the groups provide a formal setting for employees with similar interests to network, providing opportunities for career development, as well as community outreach, recruiting, targeted marketing and supplier diversity efforts.