ERG Festival, military, veterans, civilians
ADP's Harris Morris, left, and Wells Fargo's Jared Merlie discussed bridging the military and civilian divide during a panel at DiversityInc's ERG Festival on Nov. 12, 2019. (Photo credit: Natural Expressions NY)

ADP’s Morris, Wells Fargo’s Merlie on Bridging the Military and Civilian Divide at ERG Festival

Harris Morris, vice chair for the Military Strong & Allies business resource group (BRG) at ADP (No. 3 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list and No. 14 on the Top Companies for Veterans specialty list), and Jared Merlie, chair of the Veterans’ Team Member Network (TMN) in Northeastern Pennsylvania at Wells Fargo (No. 13 on the DiversityInc Top 50), discussed bridging the military and civilian divide during a panel, moderated by DiversityInc senior editor Casey Musarra, about military employee resource groups (ERGs) at the DiversityInc ERG Festival on Nov. 12 at Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott.

Referring to veterans as a cross section of America, Morris, who is a veteran, said that everyone has a connection to the military but not everyone understands what veterans face on a daily basis.

Merlie piggybacked off of Morris, saying there seems to be a disconnect between transitioning veterans and their civilian colleagues.

“It’s all about encouraging the conversation,” he said. “There is a lot that each side doesn’t know about the other. Whether it’s the experiences that a serviceman and woman have gone through and what that does and how they work through things, or whether it’s a civilian’s understanding of how that fits into the workplace.”

According to Merlie, one problem that veterans face when entering the workforce is they don’t know how to leverage the unique skills and talents they have developed in the armed forces.

“Veterans may not have that clear understanding of what separates them from the rest and where their skills and strengths really play into an individual organization,” Merlie said.

Both Wells Fargo and ADP are examples of companies that have intricate programs to support veterans from the time they get hired through their career progression. One of the early career programs for Wells Fargo is their Military Apprenticeship Program, which gives veterans a hands-on experience through a number of job functions, starting as a teller. The goal through the 18-month program is to prepare the veteran to take over a leadership role managing their own branch.

Similarly, Morris said one program ADP has implemented matches veterans with potential mentors.

“Our BRG is absolutely critical to be in that initial touchpoint for the veterans when they come into the company and just having somebody to talk to.”

Morris said veterans often pick other veterans who are more experienced in corporate America to be their mentor. This gives them someone to lean on who understands their experience.

But Morris said it’s also important for veterans to have allies. Morris said veterans make up 35% of ADP’s military BRGs. The other 65% is made up of civilians allies.

“Sometimes we can be secular as a veteran community, and I think it’s absolutely critical to have others who understand the business world who can help the veterans see this new place and educate them,” he said.

Merlie, who himself is an ally, said it can be a struggle to get participation from civilians, and it is important for military ERGs to build the civilian membership.

“How do we encourage membership and participation in the events to gain deeper levels of exposure? A lot of times, it’s in encouraging civilians to become more involved in something like a veterans ERG,” he said.

Related Story: Survey Finds Most Americans Support Better Healthcare for Veterans, But Not Raising Taxes to Cover It

Latest News

Trump commission attempts racist whitewashing of history

Trump Commission Attempts Racist Whitewashing of History; Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert Probed for Potential Role in Capitol Insurrection; and More

Trump commission’s “1776 Report” attempts racist whitewashing of history In the highly controversial “1776 Report” released by the Trump administration yesterday, the outgoing GOP party doesn’t just try to present a nonpartisan, “patriotic” look at the nation’s history (as the President had promised the report would do) it fully rewrites…

Boeing Elects Lynne Doughtie to Board of Directors, Following Resignation of Director Caroline Kennedy

Originally published on The Boeing Company (No. 27 on The 2020 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) board of directors today announced that Lynne Doughtie has been elected to the board, replacing Caroline Kennedy who has resigned following three years of dedicated service. Doughtie, 58, retired from KPMG in 2020, after serving as U.S. Chairman and…

Flint, Michigan water plant

Ex-Michigan Governor Charged for Racist Lead Poisoning of Flint Water Supply; COVID-19 Vaccines Not Increasing in Availability; Democrats Plan to Repeal Trump Rules; and More

Former Michigan Governor formally charged for poisoning thousands of predominantly Black Flint citizens with water containing lead. In 2014, when the city of Flint was forced by the state to begin taking its water supply from the Flint river rather than using water from nearby Detroit as it had for…

NYPD under suit

NYPD Sued for Years of Racial Abuse and Use of Excessive Force; Trump Administration Approves Discrimination Against LGBTQ individuals; and More

NYPD sued by Attorney General for years of racial abuse and use of excessive force. In what’s been called a “landmark lawsuit,” The New York Times has reported that New York state Attorney General Letitia James is suing the city of New York, the mayor and the NYPD’s leaders, alleging…

NBCUniversal News Group Launches NBCU Academy, Offering Training to Universities and Community Colleges

NBCUniversal News Group launched NBCU Academy, a new, innovative, multiplatform journalism training and development program for four-year university and community college students through education, on-campus training and online programming. Originally published on The initiative includes a curated onsite curriculum for hands-on learning experience with world-class NBCU News Group journalists,…


Kaiser Permanente: Committing $8.15M for Racial Equity

Originally published on Grants to grassroots and nonprofit organizations will help address structural racism and practices that prevent communities of color from achieving good health and well-being. Kaiser Permanente (DiversityInc Hall of Fame), the nation’s largest integrated, nonprofit health system, has awarded $8.15 million to support dozens of nonprofit…