General Electric and Haworth have joined the prestigious ranks of Gold-Level Veteran-Friendly Employers (VFE) in Michigan for their ongoing commitment to hiring and retaining military veterans.
Haworth, a west Michigan-based furniture manufacturer, and GE’s Detroit Hub become the 12th and 13th Gold-Level VFEs certified by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) respectively. Only about 3% of the more than 400 VFEs have achieved this top-level status.
MVAA, the state’s central coordinating agency for Michigan’s 550,000 veterans, launched the VFE program seven years ago as a way to support, recognize and enhance employers’ veteran-centric initiatives. Starting with just 10 companies in 2014, the VFE program has grown to include 402 employers – 13 Gold, 35 Silver and 354 Bronze.
MVAA Director Zaneta Adams said GE and Haworth recognize the special skillsets, strong work ethic and values that veterans bring to the workplace.
“I congratulate both Haworth and General Electric for their commendable efforts in recruiting, retaining, growing and supporting Michigan’s veterans,” Adams said. “It’s our vision that Michigan is the premier place veterans choose to live, raise a family, work and retire. Through our partnerships with Haworth, General Electric and other veteran-friendly employers, we’re working to make that vision a reality.”
Through the VFE program, employers are certified Bronze, Silver or Gold depending on their commitment to recruiting, training and retaining veterans. Bronze-Level Employers must commit to hiring a specific number of veterans, among other requirements, while Silver-Level Employers must meet all Bronze requirements and implement a certain number of veteran-friendly programs such as on-the-job training.
Gold-Level VFEs must meet all Bronze and Silver requirements, show they retain a large number of veteran employees over a 12-month period and implement a set number of veteran-centric programs.
GE was first certified as a Bronze-Level VFE in January 2017 and achieved Silver status in January 2019, although the company’s efforts to support veterans go much further back, including launching a Veterans Jobs Network in 2009. GE’s other veteran-centric initiatives include operating a Junior Officer Leadership Program and hosting VFE best-practices workshops.
Robert Mitchem, who served in the U.S. Army as a signal intelligence interceptor, has worked as a staff cyber investigator at GE for more than six years.
“Being a veteran at GE has been a great experience,” Mitchem says. “I have been able to connect with other veterans, both locally and nationally, through the GE Veterans Network. My leadership has been very supportive and values my military service as an asset to the company.”
Haworth has been a Veteran-Friendly Employer since October 2019 and rose to Silver-Level status in 2020. Among its efforts, Haworth has established a veteran-specific internal support program and a career management program, maintained a presence at veteran-centric hiring events and achieved national-level recognition for veteran hiring efforts from the Employment Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).
“Haworth is extremely proud of its veterans and those leaders who worked so hard to achieve the Gold-Level Veteran-Friendly Employer Award,” said Kevin Bailey, Haworth’s Chief Operating Officer. “At Haworth, we understand the meaning of pursuing excellence in everything we do, with our number one priority being to provide exceptional service to our customers. Who better to help us achieve this than those who understand what it takes to serve and protect a country.”