Supporting Military Spouses & Driving Women's Equality Forward

Supporting Military Spouses & Driving Women's Equality Forward

On Women's Equality Day, we celebrate the journeys of individuals who have overcome barriers, paving the way for greater gender parity. Meet Annie, an Outbound Business Representative at Box and former military spouse, whose path has intertwined with our commitment to driving women's equality forward. From her experiences living overseas as a military spouse, to her inspiring return to the workforce with Box, Annie's story encapsulates the challenges and triumphs faced by countless women in similar positions.

Annie’s military spouse experience

Before joining Box, I spent six years as a military spouse. Both of our postings were overseas in beautiful parts of the world: Okinawa, Japan—a collection of 160 islands in the East China Sea—and then tropical Thailand, where my husband worked at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. Living in Asia created unforgettable life memories for us, but it also came with challenges. I had to make career sacrifices and deal with employment barriers and resume gaps, which is common for many military spouses (there is a 21% unemployment rate for military spouses, and it felt even higher for those of us abroad). There were further difficulties when we relocated to Bangkok during the pandemic and had to navigate strict social measures and a slow vaccine rollout. When the time came to prepare for our move back to the U.S. and transition out of military life, I would start from scratch again.

Box and Annie’s transition to tech

Box supported my return to the U.S. workforce by opening a door to me and supporting my success in a new field. I didn’t need to downplay my background during the interview process because the Box team showed enthusiasm and interest in my experiences and perspectives. In one panel interview, we chatted about Sheryl Sandberg’s career model that compares careers to a jungle gym instead of a ladder—a concept particularly beneficial for women, who experience more career interruptions (moving up or down, on or off the jungle gym).

I’m supported in openly sharing my unique path to tech because the culture at Box embraces diverse backgrounds and experiences as one of its core values: "Bring your (___) self to work every day." I have experienced this community of belonging at Box, where I’m part of a few Employee Resource Communities: Box Women’s Network (BWN), BoxVets, and BoxAbilities, which is focused on disability inclusion and accessibility. Box’s ERCs give everyone a way to belong at Box, especially if you are new to the company or even a newcomer to tech.

Military spouses and DEI

The military spouse community is filled with talented and career-minded individuals. However, they face obstacles that affect their employability and professional growth even after leaving military life. Some of these include:

  • Career interruptions caused by frequent relocations
  • Limited job opportunities and geographical constraints
  • Networking challenges
  • Underemployment
  • Lower earnings

Gender diversity is an important topic in the tech industry, and it’s significant to note that the challenges military spouses face disproportionately impact women. Women account for 93% of military spouses, and when they are unable to participate in the workforce or held back from creating meaningful careers, it perpetuates inequity and affects their economic advancement. Military spouses are diverse, adaptable, and bring unique life experience to the teams and organizations they’re a part of—and there are some ways to support them:

  • Encourage military and veteran spouses to self-identify
  • Recognize military and veteran spouses as a unique group in DEI hiring efforts
  • Stay open to their diverse work experiences and identify transferable skills
  • Create pathways for military spouses by considering them for entry-level opportunities in new fields or industries, even when they lack direct experience

Looking ahead, these issues are now a priority at the highest levels of the government. In June, the White House announced an executive order on Advancing Economic Security for Military and Veteran Spouses, Military Caregivers, and Survivors—the most comprehensive set of administrative actions in U.S. history to support the economic security of this community. Additionally, advancing economic opportunity for military spouses is now recognized in the National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality. It has been meaningful for me to work at a company that is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion—and supports the visibility of my experiences both as a woman in tech and a former military spouse.

How Box supports veterans and spouses

At Box, we are proud to support military veterans and spouses as part of our commitment to advancing DEI. For the past three years, Box has partnered with Hiring our Heroes, which offers a SkillBridge Program for corporations through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to help active-duty transitioning military service members have a smoother beginning to their civilian career. As we continue to expand our program partnership, we hope to partner more closely with their Military Spouse and Caregiver program to engage with more military spouses.

Lastly, a huge thank you to Annie for sharing her journey from her experiences as a military spouse to her successful transition into the tech industry with Box, serves as a powerful example of resilience and progress. As we celebrate Women's Equality Day, her story underscores the importance of fostering inclusivity, recognizing unique backgrounds, and creating opportunities that drive us closer to gender parity.

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