“Being in the National Guard means I’m a part-time soldier, but I also hold full-time employment...Finding an employer willing to not only support you, but to support you as much as ITW during those times, is extremely important and helpful.” - Rob Martin, IT Operations Program Lead & IVAA Leadership Team Member
ITW’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) play a critical role in engaging our employees and recognizing the unique contributions, backgrounds and perspectives of our people.
In recognition of Veterans Day in the U.S. on November 11, we are proud to announce the formation of our seventh and newest ERG, ITW Veterans & Allies Alliance (IVAA).
IVAA was formed to help develop purposeful and sustained connections among our veteran and ally team members; demonstrate appreciation for their contributions; and attract, develop and retain these individuals to contribute to the strength of our organization.
Rob Martin, an IT Operations Program Lead at our corporate headquarters, knows firsthand the importance of supporting service members in their careers. Martin is a U.S. Army veteran and Illinois National Guard member of 23 years. He is also the Communications Chair of the IVAA Leadership Team.
According to Martin, balancing the responsibilities of military service with a career can be a complex undertaking.
“Being in the National Guard means I’m a part-time soldier, but I also hold full-time employment,” said Martin. “With that comes deployments and disruptions; I’ve served overseas three times in the last two decades. Finding an employer willing to not only support you, but to support you as much as ITW during those times, is extremely important and helpful.”
A predecessor of IVAA was formed several years ago as a grassroots veteran and first-responders group in ITW’s Welding division.
According to Dale Albertson, Sales Director of ITW Welding and co-founder of the organization, this group was conceptualized after seeing the benefits some other ERGs brought to ITW.
“Hearing the success stories of multiple other ERGs here at ITW, and also witnessing a need on some of my local regional teams in which we have veterans, we really started to connect the dots and understand we may have an opportunity to support the veterans currently employed at ITW while also knocking down some barriers veterans face as they try to find well-paying careers,” said Albertson. “Additionally, we sought to unlock a diverse and inclusive talent pipeline for our hiring managers.”
Together with partnership from Josh Sprinkle, a U.S. Navy veteran, Martin, Albertson and other members of the original group began collaborating to discuss broadening the platform’s reach to cater to the needs of the 588 self-identified veteran-status employees working across ITW’s geographies and divisions, family members of service members and other allies.
The result is the IVAA, which includes representation from the U.S. Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Marines and Reserves; veterans of foreign militaries; as well as veteran allies that represent all seven ITW segments and corporate function.
According to Martin, members of IVAA have shown great enthusiasm and collaboration in getting ITW’s newest ERG off the ground. One of the group’s primary areas of focus has been working with ITW’s Human Resources group to communicate the benefits that service members can bring to the organization and identify ways that traits like teamwork, leadership and discipline born out of military service can be leveraged for the benefit of the organization.
In addition to helping encourage hiring and retention of veteran employees, IVAA will work to support veteran-focused philanthropic organizations in our communities, cast a wider net for diversity across the organization and provide mentoring to foster deepening connections and help remove barriers facing veteran re-entry to the workforce.
“As veterans, we have a shared experience, and it is a much different work and life experience than many people,” Martin said. “To have a place in IVAA where I can share that experience with others who understand it, have that camaraderie, and work alongside colleagues at ITW who acknowledge us and want to tap into our experiences for the benefit of the company is great. Having this ERG shows we’re appreciated and recognized, and it positions us to grow stronger as a company in the future.”