New research project into the Military Covenant scheme announced

A major research project into military covenants and how signatories put their commitments into practice has today been announced by Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and Nationwide Building Society.

The independent research will shed light on how organisations are putting the corporate, armed forces and community covenants into use; establishing whether signing the pledge is a badge of honour, a tick-box exercise or a real catalyst for policy and culture change within an organisation.

This research, which will be shared widely, will help establish whether the mechanisms in place to encourage employers to support the military community are effective, robust and practical for organisations, civilians and the military community.

With hundreds of organisations signed up, the covenant scheme has been a success since it was launched in 2012.

Nationwide, which has been working with the Government and the financial services sector to ensure military personnel do not face unfair barriers in applying for mortgages due to their transient and overseas address history, is partnering with RUSI to understand how organisations are putting the covenant into use.

This research, which is due to be published in the autumn, is also looking into the numerous military charities currently operating in the UK and how they support serving and ex-armed forces personnel.

Professor John Louth, Senior Research Fellow and Director for Defence, Industries and Society at RUSI, commented:

‘This is a very important piece of independent research to review and understand a cornerstone of our defence ecosystem. We anticipate through this work making a number of recommendations to government that could help to transform companies’ and local authorities’ support for our armed forces’.

Nationwide’s Corporate Affairs Director Bryce Glover said:

‘The aim of this partnership with RUSI is to look into the covenant scheme and how organisations like Nationwide put their pledges into practice to make sure no one faces disadvantage purely because they have served their country. It’s a simple but significant objective and like the support Nationwide offers the military community, it will make a real difference to people across the UK, ensuring the covenant is fit for purpose both now and in the future. 

‘The covenant is integral to how the UK supports the military community and by working with RUSI we want to prompt an informed debate and ensure it is effective, robust and practical for organisations, civilians and the military community alike.’

Case study

Signing the corporate covenant in 2014 was an important milestone for Nationwide. Due to its HQ’s close proximity to the major military bases in Wiltshire it already had good connections with the military. It also employed a number of ex-military personnel who had transitioned successfully and were enjoying second careers within the Society. This, alongside its Armed Forces Guide to Buy – a ‘how to’ guide for military families looking to buy their own home – and its policy of allowing service personnel to let their house without a fee if they were posted elsewhere, meant Nationwide was actively supporting the military community.

Having signed the covenant Nationwide took steps to take a more joined-up approach in this area and started using the skills and knowledge – particularly of former military personnel and our military external stakeholders – more effectively.

It was an important milestone in its support for the military community as it brought together various work streams from across the business and acted as a catalyst to increase the Society’s activity in this area. This included providing housing advice specifically for personnel at military bases, forging new partnerships with private, public and third sector organisations and increasing the number of former Armed Forces personnel Nationwide recruited.

Since Nationwide pledged its commitment it has also introduced a new system which recognises British Forces Post Office addresses and makes the process of military personnel and veterans buying their own home a lot easier.

Nationwide’s Corporate Affairs Director Bryce Glover said: “It’s clear we’ve come a long way in our support for the military community and the covenant was certainly integral to this progress.

“There was a lot of work going on by teams across Nationwide to support military personnel and veterans but the signing of the covenant took it to a new level. It was a commitment from Nationwide as an employer of 17,000 people, as a mutual with a major corporate social responsibility focus and as an organisation with a relationship with one in four households within the UK.”

About Nationwide

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 18,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

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