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NEW YORK, NY ­­— The Responsible Business Initiative for Justice (RBIJ) has published new research which investigates the factors that deter employers from hiring people with criminal or arrest records – and provides a roadmap” to drive the adoption of Second Chance Hiring (SCH) in the United States. 

With U.S. employers struggling to fill nearly 10 million vacant positions, system-impacted individuals represent a vast, diverse, and underutilized talent pool. Furthermore, 85% of hiring managers say these employees perform the same as or better than those without criminal records. So why are employers reluctant to embrace SCH

The new report, entitled Hiring Justice-Involved Talent: Practical Steps to Becoming Second Chance Employers, seeks to help answer this question, and provide guidelines and resources for businesses looking to begin hiring second chance individuals. Author Ashley Furst, Senior Program Manager for Employment Opportunities at RBIJ, who is herself justice-impacted, explains:

Helping individuals gain access to post-incarceration employment is a common-sense strategy to drive inclusive economic growth. By working with businesses to help them access and support this critical workforce segment, we can make our economy stronger, our communities safer, and give individuals the opportunities they deserve.”

The report is drawn from dozens of conversations with companies across a wide range of sectors, including financial services, insurance, manufacturing, service providers, and restaurants, in addition to academics and nonprofits. It identifies three main reasons why businesses do not engage in SCH: prospective candidates may lack necessary skills (such as digital literacy); employers may be unable to identify justice-impacted candidates for open positions; and companies may struggle to adjust cumbersome internal processes or enact necessary policy changes. In response to these obstacles, the roadmap is lays out three central pillars” to drive SCH

  1. Employer education on the business and human case for SCH, as well as the unique challenges faced by individuals returning to communities post-incarceration
  2. Identifying community-based organizations (CBOs) and reentry partners to help businesses develop successful SCH programs and support system-impacted hires
  3. The provision of workforce development and training opportunities for second chance employees to allow for upward career mobility

The research was supported by Arnold Ventures, a philanthropy dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans through evidence-based policy solutions that maximize opportunity and minimize injustice. 

Employers are engines of economic opportunity, and with support and encouragement they can be instrumental in helping build a fairer and more just society,” AV Vice President of Criminal Justice Juliene James says. This report lays out practical steps that businesses can take to address the inequity created by our justice system while driving recovery post-pandemic.”

Furst also penned this blog, exploring the drivers for the roadmap’s creation and her own experiences with employment post-incarceration. RBIJ looks forward to building out this vital work as it works with employers across the country to break down workforce barriers for system-impacted individuals, and drive the adoption of Second Chance employment practices. 

About the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice

The Responsible Business Initiative for Justice (RBIJ) is an international non-profit organization that educates and engages companies to fix broken justice systems, and create meaningful opportunities for those impacted by them. They and equip businesses — and their leaders — to participate in meaningful advocacy, support reform campaigns, and adopt practices that create opportunities and increase equity for justice-impacted individuals. For more information, please visit www​.respon​si​ble​busi​nessini​ta​tive​.org.

About Arnold Ventures

Arnold Ventures is a philanthropy dedicated to tackling some of the most pressing problems in the United States. Driven by a mission to maximize opportunity and minimize injustice, it invests in sustainable change, building it from the ground up based on research, deep thinking, and a strong foundation of evidence. Arnold Ventures is headquartered in Houston, with offices in Washington, D.C., and New York City. For more information about Arnold Ventures, visit www.arnold​ven​tures​.org.


Media Contact:

Ben Cumming, Chief Communications Officer, Responsible Business Initiative for Justice


+44 7891 551 514 / +1 213 370 0222