This Saturday (27 June) will be a UK Armed Forces Day like any other. But while restrictions from COVID-19 will prevent celebrations and public gatherings taking place across the UK, we’re committed to continuing to support the UK armed forces through our influence, partnerships, people and purpose.
The courage and sacrifice of the UK’s armed forces personnel – both in wartime and during peacetime emergencies – is a vital part of our national fabric. Just look at the key role they played in designing and building the Birmingham Nightingale Hospital, delivering protective equipment, driving ambulances and supporting the public during the pandemic.
As we mark UK Armed Forces Day, we should celebrate the steps taken by defence to become more diverse and welcoming to a broad spectrum of society, while acknowledging that more still needs to be done. Achieving gender balance in defence and security, for example, won’t happen by chance. It will require a concerted effort across the enterprise, changing the overall dynamics, making defence a better place for everyone and, ultimately, improving national security.
As the founding partner of Women in Defence UK, a community of people who want to promote the value of women in defence, we’ve supported the development and growth of the initiative – from hosting briefings to sponsoring the annual awards.
We’ve helped Women in Defence UK grow into an established organisation that celebrates and recognises the achievements of those working in the defence of our nation and continues to leave a lasting impact across the armed forces community.
And we’re an avid supporter of armed forces charities. For example, before the pandemic we supported the biggest one-day charity collection in the UK, London Poppy Day, in support of the Royal British Legion.
It’s not enough to simply support serving personnel. Leaving the armed forces can be a daunting and challenging time, so we’ve partnered with the Officers Association and the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) to offer insight days to service leavers who are interested in a career in consulting. We also offer formal coaching services that cover a range of topics, including interview preparation, self-awareness and leadership in the civilian workplace.
As signatories of the Armed Forces Covenant, we’ve pledged to ensure those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly. But it shouldn’t stop there. The leadership and teamwork skills of service leavers are incredible, so we’re proud to call more than 200 of them, and many serving reservists, our colleagues. Our approach has been recognised by the Defence Employers Recognition Scheme and we’re continuously looking to how we can keep improving.
To support the reservists and former service personnel we work with, we’re also creating an armed forces community to provide the unique backing and mentoring they need in civilian careers. The pandemic served as a reminder of just how important our reserve forces are, so we’ve ensured serving reservists can now take 10 days paid leave to undertake their military obligations.
Our people are working alongside armed forces personnel every day to bring ingenuity to life. This was particularly evident when we responded to an urgent request to support the COVID-19 response by helping plan how and where the military might need to provide medical, logistics and engineering support. We quickly deployed a highly skilled team to develop a robust analytics tool supported by an agile approach to data sourcing, management and exploitation.
We’re proud to work with, support and celebrate the UK’s armed forces, and to support our own veterans and staff who continue to serve as reservists. We thank all the service personnel who are working tirelessly to keep this country safe in difficult circumstances. We hope you and your families have a safe and very happy UK Armed Forces Day.