Among contemporary 20th-century CEOs, the name Ralph J. Roberts might not ring the same bell as, say, Jack Welch or Elon Musk, but his scope of influence on American homes and businesses is measurably greater.
The late-businessman founded Comcast in the early 1960s, after a four-year tour of duty in the United States Navy, and quickly expanded the company into what is now known as Comcast NBCUniversal, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the country.
Throughout his company’s massive growth, Roberts maintained a strong connection to the American military. That continues even after the founder’s death five years ago. Comcast has made a new commitment to hire 21,000 veterans, military spouses and National Guard and Reserve members by 2021.
In 2018, there were 19.2 million veterans in America, accounting for about 8 percent of the civilian noninstitutional population age 18 and older, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. About 10 percent of all veterans are women.
The transition from active-duty military to civilian life and employment can be difficult, though most U.S. veterans who served in the post-9/11 era feel their military service is useful in providing skills for life outside of the military.
A recent Pew Research Center report found that the jobless rate for veterans is 3.4 percent, versus 3.6 percent for nonveterans. U.S. veterans were more likely to work blue collar jobs — 7.2 percent of employed veterans worked in installation, maintenance and repair occupations, versus 3 percent of employed nonveterans. Veterans are also five times as likely as nonveterans to work in the federal government or the defense industry. The top 20 public and private employers of military veterans are concentrated within the defense and aviation industries.
Comcast already has an expansive program to support veterans who have transitioned into civilian workforce, including peer-to-peer mentorship and digital and in-personal professional development.
The company also has an 8,400 member VetNet employee resource group dedicated to supporting the military workforce.
“Comcast NBCUniversal has greatly benefited since we began our focus on hiring members of the military community in 2010,” says Dave Watson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Cable. “We are so thankful that these individuals chose to serve our country, and we are proud to call them teammates as they now help to serve our customers and make a meaningful difference in our company.”