More than 78 million Americans have a criminal or arrest record — and too many employers don't see their potential because of it. Providing Second Chance employment opportunities not only benefits potential employees and employers, but it also strengthens our communities. "An inclusive economy — in which there is equal access to opportunity — is a stronger, more resilient economy. That's something we should all get behind," says Jamie Dimon, our Chairman and CEO.
Second Chance at Success
More than 78 million Americans have a criminal or arrest record — and too many employers don't see their potential because of it.
Providing Second Chance employment opportunities not only benefits potential employees and employers, but it also strengthens our communities.
"An inclusive economy — in which there is equal access to opportunity — is a stronger, more resilient economy. That's something we should all get behind," says Jamie Dimon, our Chairman and CEO.
1. Second chances will strengthen our economy
Nearly half of people with criminal backgrounds are still jobless a year after leaving prison.
That's a moral outrage, and it hurts our economy, too. This group has skills that could help fill millions of vacant jobs in our country, but too many employers overlook what they have to offer.
JPMorgan Chase is committed to helping to advance a more inclusive economy by increasing access to employment opportunities, but we can't do it alone. Businesses, community leaders, and policymakers have to work together to make this right.
The private sector's attitudes about hiring people with criminal backgrounds need to change.
Vicious cycles of poverty and recidivism need to be broken.
Clean Slate policies to help people move on from their records need to be enacted.
"It's good for business, it's good for the communities we work in and it's good for the economy. At JPMorgan Chase we believe we're only as strong as the communities we serve," says Heather Higginbottom, our Head of Research & Policy and Co-head of Global Philanthropy.
The little box on job applications asking whether the applicant has a criminal record is too often an unjust reason to deny a job opportunity.
Barriers like this reinforce systemic inequalities — made worse when issues like COVID-19 exacerbate the racial and economic disparities in our country.
We "banned the box" to build a more inclusive talent pipeline, and last year roughly 10% of our new hires — 4,300 employees — in the U.S. were individuals with criminal backgrounds that had no bearing on the job they were hired to perform.
Now we're working with communities across the country to increase access for people with criminal backgrounds to get the jobs and support they need and deserve.
Our Second Chance hiring program works with community and legal aid organizations to provide legal services, job support and mentorship to people with criminal backgrounds in Chicago, IL, Columbus, OH, Wilmington, DE, and Phoenix, AZ.
These programs help make sure people facing barriers to opportunity gain a stronger foothold in the growing economy.
3. …and extends to the broader community
One company's initiative alone won't be enough to create needed change — that's why we've partnered with other businesses as well as community and government leaders to promote these practices throughout the country.
As a founding member of the Second Chance Business Coalition, we're working with more than 40 large companies committed to expanding second chance hiring and advancement.
The Coalition helps organizations provide businesses with the resources they need to implement hiring programs like ours, including an onramps guide and community partners map.
Read Heather Higginbottom's op-ed on our Second Chance efforts, co-written with Kelly Service's CEO, a member of the Second Chance Business Coalition.
The best way to support people with criminal backgrounds is to give them a fair chance at economic opportunities.
Today, a criminal record can follow someone forever. Some can be cleared or sealed, but few people ever attempt the complex, costly, time-consuming process.
That's why we support Clean Slate legislation — like the federal Clean Slate Act — to automatically clear or seal eligible criminal records for those who've fulfilled their obligations to the justice system. Last year, we piloted an expungement clinic at the Stony Island Community Center in Chicago and helped 20 people begin the expungement process and pave the way for a more equitable and successful future.
We've seen great progress at the state level: Pennsylvania, Utah, Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware and Colorado have passed or enacted Clean Slate measures. Efforts to advance legislation in New York, Illinois, Texas, and Washington state are expected in 2023.
But CEOs and community leaders can urge more states and the federal government to go further with common-sense reforms of hiring rules at regulated institutions — like the Fair Hiring in Banking Act recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives — and occupational licensing rules that keep people with criminal backgrounds from getting jobs.
Millions of Americans don't need to face "seemingly insurmountable obstacles" when looking for employment, writes Jamie.
5. Ohio: a second-chance spotlight
As one of Ohio's largest private employers, we've brought our second chance hiring model to Columbus — working with local non-profits to build inclusive hiring pipelines for residents with criminal backgrounds.
The Center for Employment Opportunities, Goodwill Columbus, Columbus Urban League and The Legal Aid Society of Columbus are supporting jobseekers facing these barriers in central Ohio.
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