How willing should stores be to hire a convict?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Getting Personal About Business, the blog of Zahn Consulting, LLC.
One of the pressing social issues we continually confront is the re-integration of former prisoners back into society. Among the largest obstacles this population must overcome is successfully seeking employment once no longer incarcerated.
Recently recognized by best-selling business author Seth Godin and Wired magazine as the Humanitarian of the Year for 2015, Catherine Hoke and her company, Defy Ventures, have created an approach to nurture and develop the entrepreneurial capabilities of former prisoners.
According to Ms. Hoke, her mission is less about pity or shame than recognizing similarities and differences between the "stereotypes" many of us have about prisoners and employers — and the experiences that may have led each of us to make decisions in our pasts.
Photo: Defy Ventures
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the United State Department of Justice, over 60 million Americans have some kind of criminal activity as part of their permanent record. Of those 60 million, 13 million have a felony as part of their record. Even more alarming, the trend is on the rise as the rate to incarcerate increases. At the current rate, the percentage of people projected to spend time in prison within their lifetimes include:
- One in 15 Whites;
- One in six Hispanics;
- One in three African Americans.
As a result, the pool of applicants seeking employment will include more and more people who have had convictions previously.
Rather than see the prisoners as just their crime, business owners would be well advised to see the person and judge them on their skills, capabilities and capacities. Even the best and most successful of entrepreneurs have had occasions where they have erred — parts of their background that they are less proud of and things they have done that would cause shame, humiliation or embarrassment if publically known. Ms. Hoke’s perspective is not to see people at their worst moment and project from that their entire worth, but rather to see them as they are now and allow them to flourish.
Should stores be open to hiring convicts? What extra steps, if any, should be added to the hiring process in considering such a hire?