By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON HARBOR — Whirlpool Corp. was one of three companies in the state to be named a 2015 gold-level Veteran-Friendly Employer.
Gov. Rick Snyder joined Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Director Jeff Barnes on Monday during the MVAA’s Veteran-Friendly Employer Awards ceremony, held at Michigan State University. There, they announced the 2015 Veteran-Friendly Employer rankings and recognized the state’s top companies dedicated to veteran employment.
For the first time in the program’s history, three organizations were certified gold-level Veteran-Friendly employers. General Motors and Quicken Loans joined Whirlpool on the list.
“Hiring veterans is a great business strategy. They are not only extremely talented individuals, they are also proven leaders who have stepped forward and defended our country,” said Jeff Noel, corporate vice president of Communications and Public Affairs at Whirlpool, in a news release. “We’re proud to be recognized as a military friendly employer.”
Prior to this year’s ranking, Whirlpool had been recognized as a silver-level Veteran-Friendly employer. Last year, General Motors became the first company to earn such a ranking.
To be recognized as gold, employers must retain at least 75 percent of veteran hires over the last 12 months, implement internal veteran support networks and create either a hiring rotation or leadership development program within their organization.
In 2013, the Benton Harbor-based appliance maker created an employee resource group called the Whirlpool Veterans Association.
As part of the company’s mentor program, veterans and mentors help new hires make the transition to new positions and progress to executive leadership. WVA members support and recognize veteran colleagues, while giving back and supporting community events.
The WVA also became the official appliance sponsor of Homes for Our Troops – a nonprofit organization that helps veterans who were severely injured in combat. Since 2004, HFOT has handed over the keys for nearly 140 mortgage-free home build projects. New homes will now include a full selection of new Whirlpool major appliances and KitchenAid counter top appliances.
“Whirlpool Corp. was established 104 years ago this week and throughout our history…we have supported the service of our men and women in uniform,” Noel said in the release. “The skills these men and women learn in quick decision-making, teamwork and leadership are vital to creating a strong and talented workforce representative of the values the United States and our company are founded on.”
In total, 37 organizations earned either bronze-, silver- or gold-level status.
Six organizations were honored as 2015 silver-level employers for meeting or exceeding their veteran hiring goals and implementing internship and on-the-job training programs for veterans, including Cooper Standard, DTE Energy, Michigan Department of Transportation, Prestige Group, Roush Enterprises and Verizon.
Twenty-eight organizations were certified bronze-level veteran-friendly employers. The full list is available on MichiganVeterans.com/certifiedvetfriendlyemployers.
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 17, 2015)