In this episode of Work in Progress, Stan Ball, vice president and chief litigation counsel for Eaton Corporation, and I discuss tearing down barriers to employment for people with a criminal record.
There are more than 80 million people in the U.S. – one in three Americans – has some type of criminal record. Even when it includes only a misdemeanor arrest or conviction, that record poses a significant barrier to employment.
Research from Harvard shows that more than 80% of employers require job applicants to undergo a background check, and a criminal record can reduce the chances of a second interview by 50%.
The typical unemployment rate for justice-involved individuals is between 24% and 27% and formerly-incarcerated people who are Black have a five-times higher jobless rate compared to the general population.
The Second Chance Business Coalition
The Second Chance Business Coalition (SCBC) is an organization of 42 large companies that are committed to expanding second chance hiring and advancement within in their companies to justice-involved individuals.
The group was co-founded in April of 2021 by JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon and Eaton chairman and CEO Craig Arnold. SCBC was inspired by the Business Roundtable decision to form a committee on racial equity and justice to eliminate racial disparities in economic opportunities.
Both groups believe that second-chance policies have the potential to expand economic and life opportunities for individuals who have paid their debt to society.
Ball is an Eaton executive who often speaks on behalf of SCBC.
“If we believe in our justice system with all of its faults – when someone is convicted and they are given a sentence – with the time served it should be done. It should be over with. That should be the end of it.
“But if our practices in terms of looking at potential employees is to say, ‘Well, you’ve got this on your record. We really don’t care whether or not you’ve paid your debt to society or not. We’re still going to attach the stigma to you.’ That’s the equivalent of a life sentence when it comes to finding meaningful employment,” says Ball.
And with the documented needs for workers, he adds, it is time to work to ensure that this pool of talent is not left out of the hiring.
“It’s unfortunate that in America we have gotten into this culture of sidelining talent in massive numbers and this is a great time for us in our history to pivot, to pull people off the sidelines and get them back in the game,” says Ball.
In our conversation, we talk about some of the steps SCBC members are incorporating to make this a reality. We also examine some of the progress being made.
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Episode 240: Stan Ball: VP and Chief Litigation Counsel, Eaton Corporation
Host & Executive Producer: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch and Melissa Panzer
Theme Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4.0
Download the transcript for this podcast here.
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