Indeed Essentials

Essentials to Work: Eliminating barriers to good jobs

Jobsite Indeed and partners launch initiative to address the digital divide, transportation gaps, and the hiring of justice-involved persons

Job website Indeed has identified three major challenges for job seekers, and launched a $10 million program to help overcome those barriers.

The new Essentials to Work initiative is part of the company’s environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) commitment that addresses digital access and equity, transportation, and criminal record-clearing.

“Indeed’s mission is to help all people get jobs. Every day we connect millions of job seekers with employers, but we know that many people face a myriad of barriers. We designed this program to help alleviate some of the issues job seekers face,” says Parisa Fatehi-Weeks, senior director of Social Impact Programs and Partnerships at Indeed.

Parisa Fatehi-Weeks, senior director, Indeed

According to Pew Research, 41% of adults with an annual income under $30,000 do not have a computer, compared to 8% of those making more than $100,000 a year. Regardless of role or industry, it’s considered critical for searches, applications, creating resumes and other job-seeking functions.

“Having frequent, reliable access to the internet is critical for daily life in the U.S. in 2022. It’s absolutely essential for finding and keeping a job. For many, it is considered as important as any other utility like water or electricity,” Fatehi-Weeks says.

“Can you imagine having to travel to a library to get 30 minutes of access rather than having constant access on your phone and with a computer device?,” she asks.

By partnering with PCs for People, Indeed provides computer devices, connects public housing properties to Wi-Fi networks and distributes mobile hotspots to 10,000 income-eligible customers. Even after gaining employment, beneficiaries to this program will likely need access to the technology. The growing demand for digital skills extends beyond information technology fields.

Indeed has tracked entry-level workers in agriculture, healthcare and hospitality who are now required to use technology For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken now trains workers on food safety using virtual reality goggles, while agribusiness giant Taylor Farms is training human workers to collaborate with robots in packing vegetables.

The Transportation Gap

While remote working and talent recruitment skyrocketed during the past two-and-a-half years of the pandemic, the call to return to physical work locations is now on the uptick at all stage of the employment process. This pivot has shined the light on the disparities in transportation access – vehicle access is lowest for people of color.

“Depending how one measures job access – by proximity to jobs, proximity to public transit, or commute times – existing research commonly links job access to individuals’ economic outcomes (employment, wages),” Fatehi-Weeks says. “Shorter commute times are also associated with greater economic mobility across generations. Job access is particularly important for poorer residents, as they are more likely to use public transit.”

As a solution, Essentials to Work launched a $1.5 million partnership with Lyft’s Jobs Access Program, which provides rides to job seekers for training, interviews, or the first few weeks into a new job. Lyft codes have been provided to dozens of Indeed’s nonprofit partners that also help job seekers facing barriers including refugee status. United Way and Goodwill also received funds to offer rides for similar purposes.

Removing Barriers to Hiring the Justice-Involved

The Goodwill partnership also helps with transportation for perhaps the most impactful aspect of the program: record clearing for the formerly incarcerated, which can help 78 million Americans. In most states, the burden of filing the petition to clear one’s record falls on the person with the record.

According to Indeed, only 10% of eligible individuals with conviction records applied for expungement during their first 5 years of eligibility. Twenty to 30 million adults with un-convicted charges are eligible but have not cleared their records. 

Whether seeking expungement, sealing or engaging in non-disclosure, job seekers can reach out to one of almost two dozen partners across ten states for assistance on this process, and support in creating Indeed accounts, resumes and complete interviews. Taking this step can make a notable difference. One Michigan-based study found 10% increase in employment rates and 22% increase in wages after expungement.

“Previously incarcerated individuals represent a large pool of underutilized talent – especially in the current labor market where there are two open positions for every job seeker,” Fatehi-Weeks says. “One in three United States adults have a criminal record, and the stigma of these records can hinder the job search or advancement process, even long after an individual has fulfilled their legal obligations.”

Employers also appear to be recognizing the value of this overlooked workforce. Indeed data notes a 31% increase in “fair chance employment policies” since 2019, and a 45% rise in phrases such as “felon friendly” and “no background check” in job searches since 2021.

The Job has Just Begun

Fatehi-Weeks says so far, the Essentials to Work program has helped “thousands.” The company’s goal is to get 30 million job seekers by 2030.

“As the world’s largest job site, we have the ability and responsibility to help job seekers with barriers get hired,” she says.