VMware’s Veterans@VMware POD (Power of Difference) has been going strong in the US for many years and recently sought out some of our UK Veterans and Reservists to pave the way for launching an EMEA Chapter of the Veterans@VMware POD. Initially, the launch of this new Chapter focused on the UK. Whilst tightly integrated with their counterparts in the US, POD members in the UK were keen to establish some specific goals they wanted to achieve as soon as formally launching.
We sat down with Principal Architect, and Co-Lead of the EMEA Chapter Aidan Dalgleish to learn more about the launch at the end of last year. Aidan also shares what VMware’s signing of the Armed Forces Covenant and recent Bronze Award through the Defense Employer Recognition Scheme means to the newly launched EMEA Chapter.
VMware Careers: Aidan, Congratulations on the launch of the EMEA Chapter of the Veterans@VMware POD. Can you share more about what the mission of this Chapter is?
Aidan Dalgleish: Prior to launching the very first Veterans@VMware representation in EMEA back in November 2020, we set ourselves a mission to attract, retain and develop veteran and reservist talent at VMware and to focus on giving back to the Armed Forces communities. As part of delivering on that, in 2020, we initially focused on how we might attract talent and set ourselves some supporting goals as follows.
- Signing the UK Armed Forces Covenant (AFC)
- Achieving recognition through the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS)
- Improving recruiting efforts for Armed Forces leavers through the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) in the UK
VMware Careers: Late last year, VMware UK signed the Armed Forces Covenant (AFC). Can you tell us more about what signing the AFC means for VMware?
Aidan Dalgleish: The AFC is ‘a pledge that together we acknowledge and understand that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy, and society they serve with their lives.’ As an equal opportunities employer, VMware already does this, so we were merely formalising our support of veteran and reservist employees with a public commitment. Other reasons we wanted to sign the AFC are as follows:
- The AFC aligns with VMware’s culture and EPIC2 values, and it makes good business sense to attract talent from the Armed Forces
- It allows us to highlight the great benefits of working for VMware – whilst making a concerted effort to define a custom set of pledges
- Many of our customers and partners are already making this commitment, and we wanted VMware to be aligned
- Making the commitment to support the AFC facilitates closer collaboration with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and will enable us to proactively recruit from the pool of talent leaving the Armed Forces and the families of serving members of the Armed Forces through Forces Families Jobs
- It provides the opportunity for VMware to be publicly recognised through the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS), in turn making us a more attractive employer for veterans and reservists
VMware Careers: It sounds like a lot of work has gone into this, especially around improving benefits for VMware UK Veterans. Tell us how you went about this?
Aidan Dalgleish: Sure, in preparation for signing the AFC we made a concerted effort to define considered and meaningful pledges, drawing upon the great benefits available within VMware, and not taking the easier path of adopting the defaults. Furthermore, in starting this journey, we aspire to continually improve and lay a solid foundation for progressing through the ERS Award levels. An area we needed to improve to support this goal was to update the Military Leave policies for the UK – not just for the award, but because it is the right thing to do to support members of the Reserve Forces in the UK many of whom have recently been supporting their regular counterparts in the UK’s COVID response. We worked closely with the NEMEA Benefits team to update the current policies to better support Reservists participating in annual training commitments and/or in the event they are mobilised for operations (humanitarian or warlike).
The output of these efforts is that UK Military Reserves are now granted 10-days military leave to attend Annual Continuous Training (ACT) activities, which is required for them to meet their minimum training commitments and their annual Certificate of Efficiency (deemed a deployable soldier). In addition, and more importantly, we provided a commitment that VMware will support mobilised personnel by protecting their employment, in line with the Reserve Forces (Safeguarding of Employment) Act 1985, but furthermore by ‘topping up’ any shortfall in salary between that provided by the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) and VMware. Our intention is that mobilised employees should be able to focus on the task at hand without needing to be concerned about the existing financial commitments or their family losing access to key benefits. This also compliments the retention aspect of our mission
, since serving reservists are much more likely to stay working for an organisation that supports them through such challenges. The summarised benefits are now published on the UK Benefits Microsite and incorporated into our Armed Forces Covenant pledges.
VMware Careers: Officially signing the AFC must have been a special moment. Can you share more with us about that moment?
Aidan Dalgleish: Due to COVID-19, we were unfortunately not able to conduct a face-to-face signing ceremony, so we conducted a remote ceremony over zoom. From VMware, we were joined by Vice President for Northern EMEA Duncan Greenwood, former Vice President of Global Technical Account Management Alan Barber, Vice President, and Chief Technology Officer – EMEA Joe Baguley, Senior Director UK Public Sector Sales Tamar Brooks, Director Solutions Engineering UK&I Baz Basnett, Senior Solutions Architect (and my co-lead) Stuart Hardman, Associate Solution Engineer Rebecca Fox and honoured guests Commodore David Elford OBE ADC and Gil Niblock our Regional Employer Engagement Director from the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association for the Southeast (SERFCA). Commodore Elford engaged with our EMEA leadership and shared his thoughts on the importance of industry support, the difference it makes to the military, and offered his thanks for the pledges in our AFC document. The signed VMware AFC is available publicly here.
VMware Careers: VMware UK was granted the Bronze Award from the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme recently; what does this recognition mean?
Aidan Dalgleish: Yes, we were thrilled! Upon submission of our Signed AFC pledges, the EMEA Chapter nominated VMware for recognition through the ERS scheme in the form of the Bronze Award. We are pleased to confirm that VMware was accepted for and granted the Bronze Award on Friday, 8 Jan 20. Not a group to rest on our laurels, the EMEA Chapter is already working on achieving the criteria for the Silver Award and will be nominating VMware during the first half of the 2021 calendar year.
VMware Careers: What is next for the EMEA Chapter of the Veterans@VMware POD?
Aidan Dalgleish: We have a long and ever-growing backlog of ideas, some of which will require a longer time investment, but the overall intention is to build on the foundation we built in 2020, whilst remaining aligned to our mission. In terms of attracting talent, we are planning to increase efforts with the CTP, including attendance at their events, webinars, and workshops. Furthermore, now that we have signed the AFC, we are able to engage with Forces Families Jobs, which we are keen to explore as we recognise this too presents a wonderful opportunity to hire new talent and that VMware’s flexible working policies could provide a good opportunity for family members of serving members of the armed forces to find a career, not just a job for the duration of a posting.
One thing we are passionate about is the Giving Back aspect of our mission. We are still getting traction here, and we are keen to maximise the benefits of the support and gift matching opportunities available through the VMware Foundation. For example, we raised ~£2,300 for the Poppy Appeal through employee donations and VMware Gift matching. In addition, many of the Chapter members took part in the Veterans In Action (VIA) Alive Virtual 100KM Monthly Challenge, where we were all covering 100KM to raise funds to support veterans and their families through post-traumatic growth.
Continuing this theme, we are looking for ways to partner with charities to helping them achieve tangible outcomes through fundraising activities. In addition, when COVID-19 restrictions allow, we will be looking to create VMware Foundation Service-Learning opportunities for our employees to learn and benefit from directly supporting charities. Furthermore, through this direct engagement, they will be granted financial credit they can donate back to the charity.
VMware Careers: Wow, it sounds like you have achieved a lot in a short space of time and lots more on the horizon. What would you say has been the most important aspect of achieving this success?
Aidan Dalgleish: That is an easy answer, teamwork, willingness of all involved to help , and VMware’s EPIC2 culture. The EMEA Chapter is a talented group of people, who are all passionate about delivering on our mission statement, and the success achieved to date would not have been realized without the involvement of the whole team. Coupled with this was the overwhelming support from our Senior Leadership and the supporting functions such as HR, Benefits, Legal, Recruiting, and Talent Acquisition. In short, at every stage throughout this journey, there was overwhelming support, and the most common question we were asked was, “tell me what you need and how I can help?”
Follow VMware Careers on social media to see more from the EMEA Chapter of the Veterans@VMware POD.