We learn at a young age that knowledge has power. At Checkr, we take seriously our responsibility to raise awareness about fairness in hiring. For organizations that means expanding their diversity and belonging objectives to include fair chance practices.
In March 2021, Checkr had several opportunities to collaborate with Denver, Colorado and Bay Area partners on virtual events that amplified the value of fair chance hiring. The audiences included stakeholders across business, nonprofit, and public sectors.
There were a handful of resounding themes from the events—but two stand out. First, when people have completed their time and paid their debts to society, they are deserving of opportunities for professional and financial successes. And second, businesses are called on to recognize where there are injustices in the American criminal justice system and to take a fair share of workforce and public safety responsibility. That work includes opening doors to job opportunities for qualified people who have conviction histories.
Justice Reskill coordinated an inaugural event in Denver led by Aaron Clark titled, “The Business Case For Fair Chance Hiring”. The event brought together over 250 attendees and featured hallmark speakers like Jeffrey Korzenik of Fifth Third Bank whose book, “Untapped Talent, How Second Chance Hiring Works for Your Business and Community,” will be available in April 2021, Michelle Cirocco of Televerde and Rafael Cantu of Prison Fellowship, and fair chance employers Nehemiah Manufacturing, Mile High Workshop and Checkr. Here’s what Mr. Clark shared about the event:
“Fair chance hiring is increasingly gaining recognition across many business sectors. We knew the timing was right to bring together key stakeholders who can take companies from a place of care and empathy to a place where they are actively engaged in fair chance hiring in a measurable way across the State of Colorado. The feedback we have received since the event has been ‘thank you and how can we begin fair chance hiring at our company?’”
In the Bay Area, Dr. Damany Fisher of Cañada College and the Bay Area Community College Consortium along with Checkr, the Rising Scholars Network, the CROP Organization, and the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) completed a first-ever, three-part, fair chance, educational series. The event elevated critical insights of leaders like Dr. Lucretia Murphy of Jobs for the Future (JFF), Genevieve Martin of Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation, as well as Mr. Jeffrey Korzenik.
This “Untapped Talent” event convened over 200 people and spotlighted fair chance laws and practices. It was a first step towards building a community of practice where educational, employer, and workforce partners can turn thoughts to future fair chance actions. Dr. Fisher shared, “Checkr’s participation in this webinar series was critical to its success! Due to Checkr’s record as a Fair Chance employer and its development of the Fair Chance Hiring Playbook, it gave the webinar a lot more credibility in the eyes of participating employers and service providers. We look forward to continuing a workforce partnership with Checkr and a diverse group of allies”
Checkr’s Workplace Manager, Vanessa Humes, played a large role in strengthening our mission partnerships and footprint in Denver. She saw the Justice Reskill event as a chance to “bring community partners, employers, thought leaders, and fair chance advocates together to inform the community about the value that fair chance employment offers.”
Checkr’s Fair Chance Program Manager, Lauren Bell, took part in both the Denver and Bay Area efforts and was heartened to see such broad based participation in both places, sharing that “it wasn’t so long ago that employment and housing applications read ‘felons need not apply.’ Vestiges of these stigmatizing practices still exist across the United States. Business leaders are critical agents of change who can uproot mistakes of the past by simply ensuring a more equitable and fair assessment in the hiring process.”
For organizations looking to incorporate fair chance hiring, events like “The Business Case For Fair Chance Hiring” in Denver and “Untapped Talent” in the Bay Area are great avenues for education and development. Businesses have the power to expand their diversity and belonging initiatives to encourage change in their organizations and communities. Knowledge is power, and learning is the first step. If you’re interested in more information on fair chance hiring, check out our resource, The Diversity Group You’re Overlooking: How to be a Fair Chance Employer.