How Tesco supports current & ex-service personnel through its Armed Forces Network

Oliver Duhl
Oliver Duhl
People Partner

There is a popular line of thought that states the world is getting smaller. With mere clicks, taps and swipes, we can share news, information and photos in a way we couldn’t before. This, goes the line of thought, has brought everybody closer together, hence the feeling the world is getting smaller.

The way the world has “shrunk” for me is the coming together of Tesco – the day job – and the armed forces, which is my part-time job. This Saturday the country will be celebrating Armed Forces Day. As I write this, I think back to June 2015. I can almost still see the Armed Forces flag flapping in the warm breeze outside the Tesco headquarters in Welwyn Garden City.

In 2014 Chief Customer Officer Robin Terrell signed the Armed Forces Covenant on behalf of Tesco. To celebrate Armed Forces Day last year, some of our retail colleagues did a fantastic job in welcoming service personnel from their local army barracks/air station/naval base into their store for breakfast. Not just any old breakfast – but a Heroes’ Breakfast, in conjunction with Help for Heroes.

In November 2015 Tesco announced a major upgrade to our Reserves policy, setting Tesco up firmly as an industry-leader in terms of the support we provide to our colleagues who are in the Reserves. All of this helped Tesco win the Gold Award in the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme.

It’s a privilege to be part of two awesome teams at the same time – Tesco and the Royal Air Force Reserves. You might be forgiven for thinking at first it is something of an odd coupling – working in HR for a retailer and the RAF but a wise man in China once told me that when looking for ways to bridge the cultural gap there, success is found not by looking at the differences between the two, but rather by looking at their similarities.

It isn’t just me in Tesco that combines the worlds of retail and defence – we have several hundred others who do exactly that in stores, distribution and the office. Plus we employ a large number of ex-servicemen and women so the attributes and qualities both worlds look for are more alike than you might think.

A growing band of colleagues have come together to form our Armed Forces Network. The aim is simple – to bring more Tesco colleagues with military connections closer together, which can only be a good thing for all involved. Just don’t blame me if that means the world just got a little bit smaller again.

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