- JPMorgan Chase will back "second-chance" policies that support people with criminal backgrounds re-entering the labor force, the company announced Tuesday. The firm pledged to increase community investments, collaborate with other businesses to expand economic opportunity for more people and bolster its own hiring strategy.
- As part of its second-chance agenda, the employer said it will use its expertise and resources — including talent, research, data and philanthropic investments — to collaborate with business, policy and community leaders to address the needs of underserved communities and the cost of socioeconomic barriers to employment that hinder people with past arrests or convictions. It also has "banned the box" for its applications, removing questions that inquire about criminal backgrounds.
- JPMorgan Chase said the broader public policy agenda includes pushes to reform Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) rules that restrict the hiring of ex-felons in the financial industry. Chase also said it supports restoring Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals who are eligible for enrolling in higher education programs; "fair chance," which, under some state and local jurisdictions, requires employers to conduct background checks only after offering job candidates a conditional offer of employment; and "clean slate" record clearing, which automatically removes criminal records for offenses committed by juveniles and most misdemeanors.
Hiring formerly incarcerated individuals has risen in the public mind as more states and cities pass ban-the-box laws. In June, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) gave states more than $2.2 million in Fidelity Bonding Demonstration Grants to help such individuals find employment. According to DOL, the grant's purpose is to educate employers and the public on the bonds' availability and benefits and to encourage employers to hire those with criminal backgrounds.
Employers that hire individuals with criminal backgrounds can face internal challenges, such as low receptivity by other employees. Co-workers fear of ex-felons and outright bias against them were common concerns voiced by employer participants in a Chamber of Commerce Foundation event earlier this year. Getting ex-offenders to and from work without easy access to public transportation can be another hurdle, as many lack a driver's license or a car, experts said.
Despite these challenges, second-chance hiring is getting a boost from business groups, such as the Chamber and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). SHRM asked employers to sign a commitment to employ people with criminal backgrounds, with the two-fold goal of helping them regain their place in society and expanding the talent pool of much-needed workers.
Some employers have championed the hiring of people with criminal backgrounds, too. Dave's Killer Bread, for example, takes the position that whoever can do the job can have the job. The company extends this philosophy to hiring the formerly incarcerated through the Dave's Killer Bread Foundation and encourages other employers to do the same.