Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive officer of Blackstone Group LP, said the world’s biggest private-equity firm will hire 50,000 U.S. military veterans in its portfolio companies by 2018.
“Men and women who have served our country, often on foreign soil, sadly find a struggling economy and fewer jobs upon their return,” Schwarzman said yesterday on a conference call with reporters. “Our effort to hire more veterans makes good business sense to us when you consider that our portfolio of 80 companies employs more than 730,000 people.”
Schwarzman, who backed Republican Mitt Romney in last year’s U.S. election, is set to join President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden today at the White House to make the announcement as part of the administration’s Joining Forces initiative, which encourages the hiring of veterans in the private sector. KKR & Co., the buyout firm run by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, started “Vets @ Work” in 2011, a program to hire more veterans in its portfolio of companies, which employ more than 900,000 people.
Military members who served after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, have an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent, compared with 7.6 percent among the rest of the U.S., said Tina Tchen, chief of staff to Michelle Obama. Among veterans ages 18 to 24, the rate is 33 percent, Tchen said on the call.
Schwarzman said the hotels owned by Blackstone are seeking managers and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., which the firm took public earlier this month, is looking for paramedics. Blackstone owns Hilton Worldwide Inc., New York’s Waldorf Astoria and the San Diego area’s Hotel del Coronado.
“We’re in the business of taking bold risk in almost everything we do,” said Schwarzman, who co-founded New York-based Blackstone in 1985. “The only downside is that people might not work out, and that’s a risk you have when you hire anyone.”