Apr 16, 2019

Businesses should follow the lead of Dave’s Killer Bread in second-chance hiring

Post by Freedom Partners

According to a new survey by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute, 78% of Americans say they will buy goods and services from businesses that have customer-facing employees with nonviolent criminal records.

Most of the country is ready to give formerly incarcerated individuals another chance to turn their lives around. It’s now up to the business community to lead the way. April is Second Chance Month, and it’s as good a time as any for businesses to look at their hiring practices and consider transforming them.

How Dave’s Killer Bread is changing lives

Often, qualified applicants will be rejected from the start because of their criminal history — even though they’ve already paid their debt to society. In fact, a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a call back from a potential employer or a job offer by nearly 50%.

“When I was re-entering the workplace, it was place after place. Either they accepted felons, but they weren’t hiring anymore because they were fully staffed, or my background would come up,” said Elizabeth. “I had gone to college. I had experience. I had knowledge. It’s that piece of paper that made it so hard. I remember not having the money to do the laundry; I was so mad.”

Elizabeth, who previously suffered from addiction and spent time in an out of prison, now works at Dave’s Killer Bread as a stock specialist and in community outreach. The company says it is America’s No. 1 sliced organic bread; its products can be found in a variety of major supermarkets across the country.

Dave’s Killer Bread gives people the opportunities they need to improve their lives, permanently. Some 30% of all employees at the bakery — co-founded by Dave Dahl, who spent a total of 15 years in prison — have a criminal record.

“Every time I had an opportunity, I would take it. Any chance I got a chance to work with people that I admired, I took it,” said Matt, who was convicted for dealing drugs and spent time in and out of prison. “Being able to be a part of things like that, working with people that have been down the same road that I’ve been down, it’s really helped me out.

“From arriving at the halfway house to where I am now, it’s just amazing to look back. Now, I’m engaged and get to spend time with my daughter,” Matt continued. “I have a job I consider a career, own a home, and so many other positive things. It’s amazing.”

Second-chance hiring is a win/win/win

One in four Americans have a criminal record. And every week, more than 10,000 potential job candidates are re-entering communities across the country. Dave’s Killer Bread continues to show that giving someone a seemingly small opportunity can change their life forever. By partnering with the national Getting Talent Back to Work initiative, its foundation is helping inspire other employers to also extend a second chance.

Between 60% and 75% of formerly incarcerated people remain unemployed a year after their release from prison. Having a steady job and a source of income can decrease the recidivism rate, as evidenced by the fact that more than 75% of formerly incarcerated individuals are rearrested within five years of being released.

Businesses now have the chance to support people’s efforts to redeem themselves by simply hiring qualified applicants. If this practice becomes more common, businesses will have the hardworking employees they’re looking for, communities will be safer and more people will be able to turn their lives around.