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Human Resources
Aug 7, 2023

Is Wilmington Fair?

Sponsored Content provided by Khalilah Olokunola - Founder | Impact Architect, ReEngineering HR


As of 2022, a staggering sum of $292.3 billion stands as the collective equity possessed by one of numerous pioneering companies that champion fair chance hiring practices. This significant monetary figure underscores the substantial commitment these companies have made towards fostering inclusivity and offering opportunities to individuals who have been impacted by the justice system. In this article, I will dive deeper into the endeavors of these organizations who are leading the way in impact in the fair chance hiring space.

Wilmington, North Carolina, though a city of potential, has not yet fully grasped the significance of fair chance hiring as a conduit for both economic advancement and the successful reintegration of those who have encountered the criminal justice system. This oversight can be attributed to the fact that the concept of fair chance hiring has not been widely acknowledged as advantageous to the overall profitability of the various entities operating within the city. This deficiency is exacerbated by the lack of substantial discourse, communicated case studies, and a comprehensive understanding of what fair chance hiring genuinely entails.

Drawing from my experiences traversing the nation and collaborating with notable establishments that are proactively formulating policies and procedures aimed at providing opportunities to the most suitable candidates, irrespective of their background, I aspire to shed light on the potential for Wilmington (ILM) to emulate such initiatives. Fair chance hiring, far from being a transient trend, emerges as an imperative for fostering a just and equitable society, with the added boon of yielding tangible financial benefits that positively impact the bottom line.

Recent data underscores the persistence of staffing shortages in the labor force, even amidst cycles of workforce expansion and reduction. Industries such as hospitality, restaurants, tourism, and production facilities have grappled with the challenge of securing reliable team members to fulfill pivotal roles that significantly contribute to their financial well-being. The proposed solution encompasses a shift in perspective coupled with the broadening of the talent pool. However, this transformation should not culminate solely at that juncture.

A monumental player in this landscape is JP Morgan and Chase, a company endowed with a billion-dollar equity. Through its involvement with the Second Chance Business Coalition, JP Morgan has been at the forefront of advocating for this transformative approach. The significance of their commitment becomes evident through their Policy Center Statement, where they express their dedication to affording individuals with arrest or conviction histories a second chance by facilitating their reentry into the workforce, communities, and local economies.

JP Morgan's progressive stance translates into action as well, with a public commitment to hire 10% of their annual U.S. staff from individuals with impacted backgrounds, specifically in roles that do not exert influence over the financial system. This resolute engagement has a twofold effect: it not only offers livelihood-sustaining positions akin to the accomplishments witnessed at TRU but also propels economic mobility, enabling individuals to provide for themselves, their families, and their communities.

It's important to recognize that your next managerial, directorial, or C-suite talent might indeed hail from the pool of impacted individuals who have overcome formidable barriers in their professional journey. These individuals often possess transferable skills that set them apart from their peers in senior roles due to their distinctive life experiences. For instance, an impacted individual who has confronted discrimination might exhibit heightened empathy and interpersonal understanding—qualities that are invaluable in leadership positions. Moreover, they tend to possess a formidable work ethic and a resolute desire to excel, attributes pivotal for achieving success in senior echelons.

At the heart of this paradigm shift lies the acknowledgment that every individual's journey through life shapes their skills and talents. When seeking to fill any role, it's crucial to assess all candidates on the basis of their potential, irrespective of their background. By embracing the principles of fair chance hiring, cities like Wilmington can pave the way for a more just, equitable, and prosperous future.

Let’s look at some FAQS

#1: Fair chance hiring? What does that mean?

Fair chance hiring refers to giving individuals who have a history of justice involvement, such as prior convictions or arrests, an equal opportunity to compete for jobs. It's about looking beyond their past mistakes and considering their qualifications, skills, and potential to contribute to the workforce.

#2: But won't that pose risks for businesses? I mean, hiring someone with a criminal record might lead to workplace issues.

That's a valid concern, but studies have shown that fair chance hiring benefits businesses. Let me share a credible case study with you. The Fortune Society, a nonprofit organization in New York City, conducted a study on 1,000 employees with past criminal records hired by various businesses. The study revealed that employees with justice involvement had a 15% lower turnover rate compared to those without such backgrounds. This suggests that fair chance hiring can lead to a more loyal and stable workforce, reducing recruitment and training costs.

#3: How can we ensure that individuals that are justice involved are successful in their jobs?

Excellent question! For fair chance hiring to be truly effective, it's essential to provide support services like job training, counseling, and mentorship programs. Greyston Bakery is an excellent example of a company that has successfully implemented fair chance hiring along with wrap-around services. They offer their employees, many of whom have prior convictions, access to various support programs that address personal and professional development needs. As a result, the bakery has seen increased employee satisfaction, productivity, and a positive impact on the community.

Wilmington, NC has the opportunity to be a trailblazer in fair chance hiring, creating a city that is both compassionate and economically vibrant. By providing opportunity through meaningful employment, allocating resources toward wrap-around services, advocating for support programs, and embracing the FAIR principles, we can provide individuals impacted by the justice system with the opportunities they deserve to reintegrate successfully and help drive our local economy. 

We can start by striving  to embody the values of being FAIR:

Facilitating Opportunities: Wilmington should actively promote policies and programs that facilitate opportunities for individuals with justice involvement. By partnering with local businesses and organizations, the city can create pathways for these individuals to secure gainful employment and advance their careers.

Advocating for Support Services: It is essential for Wilmington to advocate for the availability of support services such as job training, counseling, and mentorship programs. These resources play a critical role in empowering individuals with justice involvement to overcome challenges and build successful futures.

Inclusivity in Economic Growth: A truly fair city embraces inclusivity and ensures that economic growth benefits all members of the community. By actively involving individuals with justice involvement in our local economy, we tap into a diverse talent pool, fostering innovation and driving sustainable development.

Removing Stigma: Wilmington should work toward eradicating the stigma associated with justice involvement. Education and awareness campaigns can help dispel misconceptions, allowing the community to see individuals for their potential and contributions rather than their past mistakes.

Let’s unite as a city and build a future where fairness, opportunity, and economic growth is available for everyone. If your organization is interested in talking more about a Fair Chance Hiring plan to prepare talent and your team contact us today. 

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