Will retailers be rewarded for giving ex-cons a second chance?
People have the power to change their lives. That’s the simple proposition that large numbers of retailers are putting to the test as participants in the Second Chance Business Coalition (SCBC), a group of major corporations that are putting ex-convicts to work.
Best Buy, CVS, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Gap, Home Depot, Kroger, Target, Walgreens and Walmart are all members of the group.
It’s not news that many people who are incarcerated find themselves back in the system. Much of this comes from failing to find their place in society once they have paid the penalty for their crimes. SCBC says that 50 percent of job applicants with records fail to get a second interview with prospective employers.
SCBC is the brainchild of Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Mr. Dimon has long advocated second chances for those with records, having instituted a successful program at his company in 2019. He, along with his SCBC co-chair, Eaton Corp. CEO Craig Arnold, have sought to bring together some of the nation’s business leaders to create a group “to share resources and advice,” Bloomberg reports.
“A felony conviction may as well be a life sentence when it comes to reentering the workforce,” Mr. Arnold said in a video that announced the launch of the group’s Second Chance Initiative.
The number of Americans with criminal records currently stands at somewhere between 70 million and 100 million people. Many of those are racial minorities. Statistics have long pointed to higher levels of incarceration among Blacks and Latinos. The events of the past year, including the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protest marches around the nation calling for racial justice, has led many corporate leaders to assess their organizations’ roles on issues of importance to their stakeholders and society.
Target CEO Brian Cornell, who spoke at a virtual event hosted by the Economic Club of Chicago, said Mr. Floyd’s murder, which took place a few blocks from the retailer’s headquarters, hit close to home literally and figuratively.
“That could have been one of my Target team members,” he said, according to a CNBC report.
Mr. Cornell said that it is up to CEOs to be the head of “diversity and inclusion” at their companies. “We have to be the role models that drive change,” he said.
- Members – Second Chance Business Coalition
- Why Jamie Dimon, McDonald’s and Walmart want to hire ex-convicts – Bloomberg/Crain’s Chicago Business
- Target CEO Brian Cornell says George Floyd’s murder pushed him to do more about racial equity, diversity – CNBC
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will retailers that actively recruit people looking for a second chance be rewarded for giving them jobs and, if so, in what ways? What do you think are the keys to running such a program successfully?