In defence of the Army campaign
A view from Jon Wilkins

In defence of the Army campaign

The Army's shift to inclusive, honest ads will bolster recruitment at a challenging time, says the Karmarama executive chairman.

I read in a local newspaper recently about a fish and chip shop that was advertising a server role. Along with the working hours and a passing reference to it being a ‘friendly place to work’, what really caught my attention was the inclusion of the three words ‘forward-thinking company’.

This was not an outpost of a major conglomerate copying and pasting from the culture page; this was an independently-owned company brilliantly showing the extent to which UK businesses are going above and beyond the bare minimum.

Forward-thinking companies help their people develop new skills, they care about their physical and mental health and they take into account the world that turns outside the office doors. As a result, they also stand to gain commercially: winning the attention of the best talent and the custom of consumers faced with more choice than ever before.

Gallup reports 87% of millennials and 69% of non-millennials rate "professional or career growth and development opportunities" as important to them in a job. While the Edelman Trust Barometer reports that 80% of consumers agree that a business must play a role in addressing societal issues.

Winning over hearts and minds

The local job ad brought home just how well the UK does these kinds of businesses: those that value the personal and the professional; those that believe in the value of profit as well as purpose. Since Karmarama began, we’ve been proud to work with many organisations that strive to live and breathe such values.  

Reaction in some quarters to the social media elements of the Army’s recruitment campaign, "This is Belonging", reminded me how there are hearts and minds that remain to be won over to this ethos. These Facebook videos simply faced questions of diversity and inclusion head on and reassured candidates that the Army is a tolerant, caring, disciplined institution. They explicitly challenged the idea that soldiers come in one-size only, and that the hardship you may face while serving will be ignored.

The videos follow the successful launch of the "rainbow camo cream", which highlighted the Army’s role as a leading LGBT+ employer at London Pride. By emphasising how an institution like the Army welcomes rather than shuns diversity of thought and action, "This is Belonging" aims to bolster recruitment at a challenging time; the Army has traditionally struggled to attract newcomers during periods of high employment and when conflict is not in the headlines.

"This is Belonging" is an honest campaign that wants people to understand what life in the modern Army is like. Detractors may wish to see the return of Lord Kitchener’s raised index finger; but this campaign underlines the Army’s commitment to being a forward-thinking organisation that is committed to going the extra mile for its people so they can pursue their best lives – at home and at work.

Jon Wilkins is the executive chairman of Karmarama