- Dropbox and Zoom are set to join an apprenticeship program developed by Slack that brings formerly incarcerated individuals "into highly skilled engineering roles," according to a July 15 announcement.
- "The two companies' involvement in the program is critical to helping advance justice reform," Next Chapter Project Director Natrina Gandana said in the press release. "Our goal is to transform the tech sector and make it an equitable and inclusive space in which to work."
- Eight apprentices will begin the program this year, receiving financial support, mentorship and "reentry services." The three graduates of Slack's Next Chapter 2019 pilot have joined the company as full-time engineers, the company said.
Slack positions Next Chapter as a culture-changing measure — one it's planning to spread throughout the tech sector.
"For companies committed to making a difference for formerly incarcerated people, simply donating isn't enough," Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield said in the press release. "You have to create opportunity, and you have to start by looking inward." Next Chapter and programs like it will pave the way for this change by providing access to education and high-paying jobs to a community that historically has lacked both, Slack said.
Employers that have launched such initiatives have reported success, and not just for the participants themselves. SAP North America hired Televerde, an Arizona-based company that provides demand generation services with strong ties to the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated populations. It found that, by training and employing incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, it gained "highly motivated," committed workers, HR Dive previously reported.
Advocates committed to changing corporate attitudes and employment outcomes for the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated point to another agent of change: ban-the-box laws. Banning questions about criminal history on job applications can help the formerly incarcerated get hired, a 2019 Case Western Reserve University found. The practice increased employment in high-crime U.S. neighborhoods by up to 4%, the study revealed.