Private equity firms are usually fierce competitors, but they have joined forces for a good cause: hiring more veterans at U.S. portfolio companies.
Top executives with leading private equity firms The Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group, KKR & Co. and TPG gathered in Washington this month to show that solidarity at the inaugural Veterans Initiative Summit, where they joined first lady Michelle Obama and others to inspire more firms to hire veterans.
The private equity firms are way ahead of the curve, hiring veterans since 2011 at their collective 200-plus U.S. portfolio companies representing 1.5 million employees, according to officials with the Veterans Initiative Summit. The effort has gained “tremendous traction,” said KKR Capstone Managing Director Todd Cooper, a former Army captain whose group supports KKR deal teams and portfolio companies.
“The light bulb went off,'' Mr. Cooper said. Veterans learn skills, leadership, initiative and teamwork. It's great for our businesses. It remains a no-brainer.”
For KKR's 31 U.S. portfolio companies and 30,000 employees, “it has been incredibly impactful,” said Todd Fisher, KKR global chief administrative officer.
Blackstone has committed to hiring 50,000 veterans over five years “and we are well on our way toward exceeding our goal,” said Chairman and CEO Stephen Schwarzman. With veterans proving to be outstanding employees, “it's extremely good for business and it's the right thing to do,” he said.
Carlyle Group Vice Chairman and former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Dan Akerson would like more firms to step up. Despite leadership, discipline and other skills that service members bring to the workplace, “they do not focus on it in the civilian world. We need to do more,” he said.