April is Second Chance Hiring Month, a time to recognize the importance of giving individuals who have criminal records a second chance in the workforce. Companies like Flikshop, Deloitte, and Bank of America are taking the lead in this movement by actively promoting second chance hiring and supporting initiatives like the Second Chance Business Coalition.
What is Second Chance Hiring?
The concept of second chance hiring is based on the idea that individuals with criminal records should not be automatically disqualified from job opportunities. Instead, employers should consider the individual's qualifications, skills, and character when making hiring decisions. This approach is particularly important because it helps to reduce recidivism rates, promote social equity, and increase economic productivity.
The Second Chance Business Coalition is a national network of companies and organizations committed to supporting second chance hiring practices. The coalition is made up of businesses from a wide range of industries, including technology, retail, and finance. The coalition's mission is to increase employment opportunities for individuals with criminal records by promoting fair hiring policies and practices.
One of the organizations that the Second Chance Business Coalition works closely with is Koch Industries. Koch's efforts are spearheaded by its former General Counsel Mark Holden. Before going to law school, Holden worked in prisons. "So often," he says, "you'd see people returning to prison after they'd been released. They couldn't find a job." Koch has knowingly hired people with criminal records, and they are proud of it. After removing "the box" from its application form, the check-box question that asks the job applicant if they have been convicted of a felony, they saw instant positive results.
According to Holden, the results have been great loyalty without heightened liability risk. "Hiring the formerly incarcerated is," Holden states, "a win-win-win. Employers find excellent employees to meet the post-pandemic labor demand. Taxpayers are relieved as prison costs decline. And employers are doing a world of good for people who deserve the opportunity."
Prison Fellowship is a Christian nonprofit organization that supports and advocates for restorative justice and criminal justice reform. The organization's newest campaign, "Unlock Second Chances," aims to break down the barriers that prevent people with criminal records from getting jobs and Flikshop has been a long-time supporter of the organization.
Flikshop’s founder, Marcus Bullock, is a formerly incarcerated individual who understands the challenges that people with criminal records face when trying to reintegrate into society. Bullock started Flikshop to help families stay connected with their incarcerated loved ones, but he also recognized the importance of providing job opportunities to people with criminal records.
“I got boxed out of 41 jobs after I returned home from prison. It was the 42nd job application that asked ‘the question’ in a different way, which led me to my first real opportunity. I haven’t looked back since then,” says Bullock.
In addition to actively promoting second chance hiring, Flikshop also practices what it preaches. The company has hired several formerly incarcerated individuals and has seen the positive impact that these individuals have had on the company's culture and productivity. Flikshop's commitment to second chance hiring has not only benefited the individuals that they have hired, but it has also helped to promote social equity and reduce recidivism rates.
April is an important month for second chance employment because it brings attention to the issue and encourages more companies to get involved. Throughout the month, organizations like Prison Fellowship will be hosting events and promoting second chance hiring practices. By raising awareness and promoting best practices, these organizations are helping to create a culture of second chance employment opportunities in the business world.
Benefits of Second Chance Employment
The benefits of second chance hiring are clear. By giving individuals with criminal records a second chance, we can reduce recidivism rates and promote social equity. In addition, hiring individuals with criminal records can also be good for business. Studies have shown that individuals with criminal records tend to be highly motivated, loyal, and productive employees.
However, there are still many barriers that prevent individuals with criminal records from getting jobs. These barriers can include discrimination, lack of access to education and training, and legal restrictions on certain types of employment. Organizations like the Second Chance Business Coalition and Prison Fellowship's "Unlock Second Chances" campaign are working to break down these barriers and create more opportunities for individuals with criminal records.
So, what can businesses do to support second chance hiring? Here are three things to consider:
Review and Update Hiring Policies: Companies should review their hiring policies to ensure that they are inclusive and do not automatically disqualify individuals with criminal records from consideration. This can include removing questions about criminal history from job applications, conducting individualized assessments of candidates, and providing opportunities for candidates to explain their criminal history and demonstrate their qualifications and skills.
Provide Training and Support Programs: Businesses can also support second chance hiring by offering training and support programs to help individuals with criminal records succeed in the workforce. This can include job skills training, mentorship programs, and counseling services. By providing these resources, businesses can help individuals with criminal records develop the skills and confidence needed to succeed in their jobs and advance their careers.
Partner with Organizations: Another way businesses can support second chance hiring is by partnering with organizations that promote fair hiring practices and support individuals with criminal records. This can include local nonprofits, community organizations, and programs like the Flikshop School of Business. By working with these organizations, businesses can tap into a network of resources and support that can help them find and hire qualified candidates with criminal records.
We believe that every person that is returning home from prison deserves a chance at a successful life, and that begins with employment. “Clean Slate believes that a criminal record should not be a life sentence to poverty,” said Sheena Meade, CEO of Clean Slate Initiative. “To better achieve equity, especially across race and income, we must transform a justice system that continues to create unnecessary barriers to improved
lives and better communities.”