Gold for leading Naval Reservist employers as No.10 thanks firms

Firms large and small which have bent over backwards to support the Reservists on their payrolls have been singled out by premier David Cameron. Gold awards were presented to ten leading employers – who brought along their Reservists to the ceremony in the grounds of No.10.

Royal Navy and Royal Marines reservists were invited to No.10 as Prime Minister David Cameron singled out their employers for supporting the reserve forces.

Ten firms – from titans of industry to family-run enterprises – were honoured by the premier under the new Employer Recognition Scheme, each receiving the first ‘gold’ awards.

Businesses can receive three levels of award under the scheme, which was introduced last year as part of efforts to expand and enhance the role of – and recognition for – the reserve forces by 2020:

  • bronze (stating their intent to support defence);
  • silver recognises employers at a regional level who actively demonstrate support;
  • and gold at the highest national level for those who have become advocates.

Each of the inaugural ‘gold’ organisations was invited to nominate one of their reservist employees to attend the presentations in the grounds of No.10, including Lt Cdr David Cooper (HMS King Alfred) and A/Sub Lt Debbie Scott (HMS President).

In his day job as a system engineer with BAE Systems, Lt Cdr Cooper has helped to bring combat systems from a string of naval vessels, including Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers, into service.

And as a reservist since 1986, he’s been mobilised three times in the past decade in support of operations in Afghanistan, Libya and the Gulf region, specialising in intelligence and targeting.

With a UK workforce of more than 33,000 – 8,000 in its various maritime arms – his employer is one of the strongest supporters of the Reserves, from signing the Armed Forces Covenant to promoting recruiting events such as the RNR ‘Live’ campaign.

It has pretty much bent over backwards to support reservists from all three Services, from helping them to fit their training into the normal working routine and also introduced a ‘buddy scheme’ putting experienced reservists in touch with juniors to help them when they are called up for the first time.

Such efforts led HMS King Alfred’s CO Cdr Tony Strickland to put BAE forward for a gold award.

In her civvie job, Debbie manages UK Government relations for Hewlett-Packard where she has worked for five years, following a career in the Conservative Party Press Office and the European Parliament.

As part of the MOD’s drive to recruit reservists, Debbie took on the role of ‘UK Reservists' Champion’ at HP, setting up an internal communications network for employees who are serving reservists, veterans or are interested in joining.

As the point of contact for all reservists within the technology giant, the junior officer has also presented at company open days and made a concerted effort to encourage employees to consider applying to join the Joint Cyber Reserve Unit – for which the response from employees has so far been overwhelming.

As for her firm, HP is one of the top five suppliers to the MOD and many employees already work closely with the UK military in their operations worldwide.

HP was also one of the first companies to sign the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant and the company's support for the military and reservists in particular, stems from the very top of the organization – chief executive Meg Whitman has vowed to position the company as the employer of choice for reservists and veterans.

In the wake of the first gold awards, this autumn silver presentations will be made; if you believe your employer is worthy of recognition, you can nominate them at: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/defence-relationship-management