Service members often encounter situations requiring the ability to work within a variety of different cultures. The military provides cross-cultural training, and how to adjust to different cultural norms. Having a broader perspective and experience working with all kinds of people serves veterans well in today’s global economy. One veteran notes, “Although my leadership experience greatly helped me find a civilian job, the lessons I gleaned from human behavior and working around diverse groups of people proved invaluable.”
This gives veterans a distinct advantage. In an article entitled, “Competency: Global & Cultural Effectiveness Veterans’ Experience and Training Prepares Them for HR Success”, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) notes, “Having a global perspective involves understanding viewpoints from cultures throughout the world, including individual nations’ economies, market trends, politics and current events. In today’s mobile and globalized work environment, it is critical for HR professionals to develop a global perspective, as it provides the foundation for adapting policies and practices to the countries in which their organizations operate.”
This is second nature to most veterans. For example, one member of the Minnesota National Guard deployed to Norway for a winter warfare training program of complete immersion. She later served as liaison between Americans and Croatians, and as a mobilization NCO, handled pre-deployment activities, organized trainings, site reconnaissance, and coordination with European Command (EUCOM). “I learned to make decisions in high-stress environments, and gained experience working with a wide demographic of individuals,” she explained.
These soft skills acquired during military service elevates veterans later when they work with individuals from various ages, ethnicity, education level, background, and work experience. Because veterans have a background based in respect and awareness for differences, as well as broad cultural experience, veterans can help to put a company’s policies and diversity goals into action. This worldview allows veterans to understand and respect individual differences within an organization as well, such as ethnicity, gender, age, tenure, educational background, personality and work style.
Furthermore, the SHRM article points out that veterans learn early on that their decisions must always align with the service mission and goals. “This is where some people misunderstand what the military seeks to instill in its soldiers; it is not an attempt to remove diversity, but rather to create a common alignment on service mission and goals while gaining from different viewpoints and skills. This experience—working alongside others from many walks of life and backgrounds on a common mission—helps position veterans for success in the increasingly diverse world of HR.”
The full article from SHRM is available here.