Education and Workforce ICYMI: Business Leaders Make the Case for Second Chance Employment at Columbia Business School

Apr 6, 2023

From left to right: Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg; Lafayette Square CEO Damien Dwin; and Moderator Stephanie Ruhle, Host, “The 11th Hour,” MSNBC & Senior Business Analyst, NBC News

On Monday, April 3, Business Roundtable, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Eaton, the Second Chance Business Coalition, the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School and Justice Through Code at Columbia University hosted “The Business Case for Second Chance Employment: Charting a Path Forward with Business Schools and Corporations.” The event brought together leaders from the business, higher education and policymaking communities, as well as directly impacted individuals, to explore the role companies and business schools can play in advancing second chance hiring.

Speakers included Business Roundtable member Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon, Oklahoma Governor J. Kevin Stitt and senior leaders from Business Roundtable member companies Verizon, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Eaton, Schnitzer Steel, Amazon, The Walt Disney Company and PayPal.

With 9.9 million job openings, employers are looking to hire. Meanwhile, more than 80 million Americans who are looking for jobs have a criminal record, creating barriers to employment and economic mobility and limiting the talent pool for companies.

Below are perspectives shared during the event, including the shared benefits of second chance hiring, what academia and government can do to support these efforts, the importance of removing biases during hiring processes and how to maximize employee retention. 

On Economic Opportunity and the Shared Benefits of Second Chance Hiring:

Oklahoma Governor J. Kevin Stitt:

“6,700 people are getting out of prison [and released back into society in Oklahoma]. So, how do we train them? ... We’ve set up CDL training behind the wire, so when they get out, they’re ready to go. ... We have work release programs. [In] Minimum security prisons, we have road construction crews. We’ll go in and actually bring people out of prison and actually start them working six months before they get out. ... The whole point is, these folks are going to be out of prison. Let’s make sure they get a good job. If you don’t have a good job when you get out, you’re destined for failure. ... We need people engaged in achieving and being part of a team and working.” 

Kerry Casey, Global Head of University Recruiting, Talent Branding and Diversity Recruiting, PayPal:

What we see is that today, our hiring needs for skilled talent are increasing every year. The complication is that unemployment rates are low and vacancy rates are high. So how do we take this complication and really address our hiring needs? We've taken it as an opportunity to really rethink our hiring strategies and our approach — in particular, trying to think about how we can find talent in overlooked populations such as individuals with criminal backgrounds.

Tyler Lynch, Principal Solutions Architect, Amazon Webservices and Technical Mentor at Justice Through Code:

For me, it's personal. I know people who have been impacted by incarceration, and all opportunity stops and they can't progress past that. I've seen recidivism, I've seen substance abuse, and a lot of it's from self-worth and not feeling like you're contributing or can contribute. The reason I focus on Justice Through Code is I need to invest my time and my service work helping others, changing their lives, and opening some doors.

Dane Linn, Senior Vice President, Corporate Initiatives, Business Roundtable:

"Business leaders realize 80 million Americans have a criminal record and get little opportunity. This is one quarter of the U.S. population. And having a criminal record can present a real barrier to meaningful employment. Not just employment, but also advancement. We don't want to just give individuals a job, we want to put them on a trajectory of upward mobility.”

From left to right: Oklahoma Governor J. Kevin Stitt and Moderator Dan Wang, Lambert Family Associate Professor of Social Enterprise, Columbia Business School

On Removing Biases in Hiring:

Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO, Verizon:

“It's all about taking away biases. You recruit the right person for the right job, and then if you give them the chance, you're going to find more [employees] and they will be loyal to the company.”

Hoai Scott, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, NBC Universal:

“We try to set [the formerly incarcerated] up with every chance for success because it's really not just about giving people the opportunity, it is really helping our leaders own their success. What that means is making sure our leaders are interviewing people the right way.”

On Employee Retention:

Erich Wilson, Chief Human Resources Officer, Schnitzer Steel:

“The most transformational result for us has really been on the retention side. A lot of our competition is retail, so we have high turnover, and we range in the 70-80% in segments of our business, but those with a second chance we hired, we're having a retention of 50%. That goes a long way not just externally, but internally for us.”

On Internal Mobility and Support Systems:

Michelle Kuranty, Executive Director, New Joiner Experience, JPMorgan Chase & Co.:

“It is critical to have a culture of internal mobility and support mechanisms to be able to do that, things like business resources groups and other channels, to lift individuals up so that people can go from technology into product or HR or other areas of the bank.”

Maria Martinez, Associate Software Engineer, The Walt Disney Company; Alumnus of Justice Through Code:

“Having spaces, having community, having mentors, and getting that support helps you succeed in life and anything you put your mind to.”

Stanley Ball, Vice President and Chief Litigation Counsel, Eaton:

“As we think about employer perspective, I think you’d agree with me that it’s kind of split into three parts. The first is, the corporation has to make a decision that they want to prioritize recruiting and hiring in this space. The second thing is to really look at their internal policies. What is written down? What do we do? How do we do this work? And then lastly, is the implementation of an actual strategy in a specific geographic region to create a sustainable pipeline.”

From left to right: Kerry Casey, Global Head of University Recruiting, Talent Branding and Diversity, PayPal; Matt Joyce, Partner, Envoy; Patrick O. Peters, Principal and Office Litigation Manager, Jackson Lewis P.C.; and Moderator Stanley Ball, Vice President and Chief Litigation Officer, Eaton

This event was the second in a series of workforce discussions hosted by Business Roundtable in 2023. Earlier this year, Business Roundtable, Stanley Black & Decker, Accenture and the Connecticut Governor’s Workforce Council launched the Connecticut Workforce Partnership Initiative, which will prepare an additional 1,500 Connecticut residents to secure high-tech jobs by December 2025.

Additional Background:

Business Roundtable CEOs lead companies that support 37 million American jobs. Members are committed to increasing second chance opportunities for the formerly incarcerated, offering multiple pathways to employment and closing the skills gap.

For more on Business Roundtable’s workforce initiatives, click below:

For More:

Watch the video

We use cookies to give you the best experience when using our website. You can click “Accept” if you agree to allow us to place cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie Notice.