U.S. businesses have come together to launch the Workforce and Justice Alliance (WJA), a groundbreaking coalition to help deliver criminal justice reform across the country. MOD Pizza, Georgia-Pacific, Kelly Services, Checkr, Televerde, Small Business Majority, Honest Jobs, and CleanTurn have all committed to leveraging their platforms to advance systemic change in the justice system, share best practices with their peers, and remove workforce barriers for justice-impacted individuals. They are calling on others to join them.
“Over the years, we at MOD have seen first-hand the incredible opportunity that exists for companies to make an impact with this intentionally overlooked and underserved workforce segment. We can contribute to a society and an economy that works for and includes everyone – but first we must stop defining people by their past,” said MOD Pizza co-founder and CEO Scott Svenson.
One in three American adults have some form of criminal record, and mass incarceration remains one of the biggest drivers of social inequality – the justice system disproportionately impacts people of color, as well as those suffering from mental illness or poverty, creating lifelong barriers to employment and opportunity for already-marginalized communities. By pushing for meaningful legislative change – from automatic record sealing to licensing reform – companies can help these individuals find career opportunities and prevent recidivism.
The creation of the alliance comes at a critical moment, as the ongoing labor shortage continues to hamper hiring and companies across the country struggle to fill more than 11 million open jobs. New polling data from Small Business Majority reveals substantial support for justice reform within the business community, with significant majorities favoring policies to automatically seal old criminal records and make it easier for individuals with convictions to obtain occupational licenses.
“Given ongoing workforce challenges for the nation’s small businesses, enacting policies that help us tap into a larger pool of candidates only makes sense,” said Small Business Majority Founder and CEO John Arensmeyer. “In fact, our new survey reveals that 84% of small business owners support ‘Clean Slate’ laws – a policy that automatically seals old criminal records. Smaller firms widely support legislation that improves second-chance hiring opportunities for justice-impacted individuals. However, many also have limited resources to fully engage on large-scale reform issues. We are happy to join the Workforce and Justice Alliance to drive change and support small businesses looking to address these critical issues across the country.”
Checkr, a background company dedicated to supporting reentry, is no stranger to these issues. “We believe people with records should have the opportunity to move forward from their past – but that requires action to get rid of the obstacles facing returning citizens,” said Checkr CEO and co-founder Daniel Yanisse. “Policy solutions can help them get back on their feet.”
The WJA is supported by the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice (RBIJ), an international nonprofit that works with companies to champion criminal justice reform measures. By joining the WJA, members are signalling their commitment to do the same. More information about the Workforce and Justice Alliance, including how to join, can be found at www.responsiblebusinessinitiative.org/workforce-justice-alliance.