Connectivity

First lady kicks off military employment pledge with T-Mobile, Comcast

4+1 Commitment aims to accommodate relocation, remote work.
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Tasos Katopodis/US Chamber of Commerce

· 3 min read

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A major mobile provider and a cable and media conglomerate are among the first companies to sign on to a new initiative aimed at lowering unemployment rates among military spouses.

T-Mobile and Comcast NBCU joined 10 other signatories Wednesday at the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, where First Lady Jill Biden helped announce the 4+1 Commitment, which she said is for “the husband who feels like he’s lost his purpose, the wife who has to explain the gaps in her resume again and again, the dad who can’t interview because he can’t find childcare.”

The commitment, helmed by military support organization Blue Star Families and the Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program, asks businesses to make at least one of the following pledges:

  • Facilitate job transfers
  • Make remote work options available
  • Offer flexible work hours
  • Accommodate time off for moves

The commitment also asks employers to consider joining one of two existing government spouse employment programs. Other participating companies include Starbucks, Nextdoor, and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Biden said the private sector-led pledge dovetails with President Joe Biden’s June executive order that prioritizes military spouses for federal jobs, supports federal job transferability, and offers a flexible spending account for childcare.

“But not all spouses work for the federal government. And not all of them want to. They want to work for you,” Biden said of the private sector. “I want to ask you to reach maybe just a little bit higher, and push just a little bit harder. Because we don’t just need spouses to have jobs. We need them to be able to keep those jobs and turn them into careers.”

The military spouse unemployment rate has hovered around 21% since 2015, according to Blue Star Families and Hiring Our Heroes, about five times the national average. The organizations noted that spousal unemployment is closely tied to financial instability, as well as relationship challenges and poor mental health.

John Hunter, senior director of technology and engineering policy at T-Mobile, told Tech Brew that his company will study where military spouses are best suited to work—and he noted myriad opportunities for teleworking.

“What Covid has taught us, there’s a lot of remote work that can be done. So I think signing up for something like this, the company has really stepped up and put it forward,” he said.

Comcast will take an open-ended approach to the 4+1 Commitment, Mona Dexter, vice president of military and veteran affairs at Comcast, told us.

“We don’t want to just say military spouses should be in this type of role only, or only in this job family. It’s really taking a surgical approach to say, ‘What are the needs of the company across the board?’”

And Comcast doesn’t want to box in talented individuals, she added.

“It’s really just understanding that flexibility, that adaptability, the loyalty that comes from having the opportunity. But really what we’re doing is we’re thinking about the journey of that teammate,” Dexter said.

Keep up with the innovative tech transforming business

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