The Art of the Covenant

A PAPER examining the effects and purposes of the Armed Forces Covenant and how organisations are putting corporate and community covenants into use has been published.

Over the past 12 months, Nationwide Building Society has sponsored RUSI to engage with the government on policy and planning for the Armed Forces Covenant, commercial organisations who have signed a Covenant pledge and military beneficiaries and their families. This Occasional Paper, The Art of the Covenant: The Armed Forces Covenant and the Role of the Commercial Sector,  is partly based on a survey of some 100 businesses that have signed up to the Corporate Covenant.

The findings in RUSI’s report are not surprising to SaluteMyJob as they match our own experience with employers.

 

"There is no doubt that if more than 1,000 employers who have pledged their support were acting on their intent, many of the barriers facing veterans would be removed.”

- Andrew Jackson, Managing Director at SaluteMyJob

 

What are some of the key findings?

  • The paper found that 61% of businesses felt that they could not navigate the multiple public and private organisations that comprise the UK’s defence extended enterprise.
  • Less than a third of businesses (29%) thought that the Armed Forces Covenant (AFC) was a success, while 26% disagreed.
  • A small number of companies (8%) reported that they believed the AFC to be a de facto kitemark rather than an active commitment.
  • Some 81% of businesses thought that the AFC was unimportant for sales and profits, while 19% considered it significant.
  • Only 19% of companies thought that the AFC helped to recruit and retain, while almost half (48%) felt it had no effect.

Managing Director of SaluteMyJob, Andrew Jackson, said: “RUSI's report into the effectiveness of the Corporate Covenant mirrors SaluteMyJob's experience with employers. In short, the Covenant falls well short of its potential, especially to improve transition of veterans into employment, and the expectations of both employers and veterans'. There is no doubt that if the more than 1,000 employers who have pledged their support were acting on their intent, many of the barriers facing veterans would be removed.”

 

The need for strategic leadership

The reports suggests that a properly staffed Armed Forces Covenant programme office, with a mix of civil servants, secondees from businesses, charities and volunteers, could be formed as a body separate from the Ministry of Defence, funded by both government and commerce. The office (championed by a senior member of the Royal Family) would be responsible for delivery and measurement of progress through rigorous data-gathering, and a forward programme, issues log, risk and opportunity management plan, as well as engagement strategy.

“The report reveals the extent of employers' confusion, with 61% of businesses reporting their difficulty in navigating a complex landscape,” added Mr Jackson. “The need for strategic leadership, as called for by Scotland's Veterans' Commissioner, is particularly evident. We agree that the Covenant is a societal imperative and should be delivered by a collaborative body better able to widen the MOD's presently overly narrow agenda. We share employers' astonishment that so many opportunities offered  remain on the table. However we call on the government to provide this strategic lead, rather than rely on the convening power of a Royal prince as the report recommends.”

 

To read the report in full, go to https://rusi.org/publication/occasional-papers/art-covenant-armed-forces-covenant-and-role-commercial-sector