Feb 22, 2019

First Step Act momentum fueling second-chance hiring 

Post by Freedom Partners

For businesses these days, hiring is tough. There are some 7 million job openings across the country. And because the unemployment rate is hovering around 4 percent, the job applicant pool is relatively small.

The good news is there’s a whole group of people too often overlooked by hiring managers and other human resources professionals: qualified applicants with criminal histories. Some of America’s largest employers are pledging to adjust their hiring practices to give these applicants a second chance.

The Society for Human Resource Management created an initiative called “Getting Talent Back to Work.” Koch Industries was the first employer to sign onto the initiative and is now leading the charge, urging the entire business community to do the same.

“It’s the right thing to do from the moral perspective, but even more importantly, it’s good for our country from a competitiveness perspective,” said Mark Holden, Freedom Partners chairman and general counsel for Koch Industries, according to a recent article by Barron’s. “It’s so competitive around the world these days, and we have all these people who have been in prison who have been shunned. That tide is turning now, and it’s going to be great for our country, our society, our communities.”

Barron’s wrote:

Some 500 companies, nonprofits, and associations, representing more than 60% of the U.S. workforce, signed on, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation, the American Staffing Association, and Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation.

This initiative aligns with Koch’s stringent opposition to government involvement that they see as intruding on human liberties in the form of over-regulation, over-criminalization, inconsistent enforcement, and needless taxpayer expenses.

Now is an ideal time for the business community to embrace giving deserving job applicants second chances. Momentum gained from the passage of the First Step Act in December can be used to make real societal changes.

Freedom Partners and the larger Seminar Network it’s part of were strong advocates of the landmark criminal justice reform legislation. Now the goal is to take even more steps via action in both the public and private sectors.

“There’s so many great stories out there of redemption, people getting a second chance,” Holden said, according to Barron’s. “But more importantly, we just need more people who are skilled workers in this country.”