By Kathryn Mayer
ORLANDO, Fla. – Former First Lady Laura Bush had a message to some 13,000 HR professionals Wednesday at the closing keynote at SHRM’s annual conference: Please hire veterans
“Look at returning veterans when hiring people,” Bush urged. “[A lot of companies] need people who are focused, who are disciplined ...veterans have those qualities.”
It’s an initiative close to both her and President George W. Bush’s hearts, she said. In their work for the Bush Institute since leaving the White House, they’ve worked with conducting research on the “great divide” between civilians and military and their work lives.
The Bushs aim to “bridge that divide” and help veterans ease back into civilian life by helping them quantify what they’re good at
, Bush said.
And HR professionals need to help with their mission.
“There’s nothing more fulfilling than real work,” she said in a sit-down conversation with SHRM CEO Hank Jackson following a roughly 30-minute speech. “If you can get a job that you feel good about and where you know and feel your worth – that means everything.”
On that note, Bush spoke about the important duties companies have to help employees find their worth. She thanked HR professionals for the important role they play in their companies and in society, adding that the ever-changing nature of their business is “no easy task.”
Most importantly, she thanked them for “honoring the human element of your profession.”
No matter who it is, or what role they have, she emphasized it is of utmost importance to treat employees — and all people – “with dignity and respect.”
She also told Jackson about her job description as First Lady, saying though it’s not a position she was elected to or hired to do — “I was just elected by one man,” she quipped — it’s one she feels very fortunate to have had.
In addition to being a rock for the president, she said the job of First Lady is a “wonderful opportunity for speaking about what you’re interested in.” For her, that was literacy.
“[Reading and books] haven’t just been my platform, it’s been the guiding passion of my life,” she said.
As for the job description of future First Ladys? Well, she’s more interested in a new job title.
“Soon, we’ll find out what the First Gentleman will do,” she said.
Originally published on BenefitsPro.com