19 businesses pledge action for workers with criminal records

The White House on Monday gathered up an impressive list of 19 major companies who have taken a pledge to eliminate unnecessary hiring barriers for individuals with criminal records. [Fact Sheet] Here's the list:

American Airlines, Busboys and Poets, The Coca-Cola Company, Facebook, Georgia Pacific, Google, Greyston Bakery, The Hershey Company, The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, Koch Industries, Libra Group, PepsiCo, Prudential, Starbucks, Uber, Under Amour/Plank Industries, Unilever and Xerox.

Here's the pledge:

“We applaud the growing number of public and private sector organizations nationwide who are taking action to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed, including individuals who have had contact with the criminal justice system. When almost 70 million Americans — nearly one in three adults — have a criminal record, it is important to remove unnecessary barriers that may prevent these individuals from gaining access to employment, training, education and other basic tools required for success in life. We are committed to providing individuals with criminal records, including formerly incarcerated individuals, a fair chance to participate in the American economy.”

OK, the pledge is a bit wishy-washy. Here are some suggested ways to put meat on these bones:

Promote Fair Chance Hiring Practices: The most important contribution businesses can make to this effort is to give a fair chance to all applicants, to ensure that information regarding an applicant’s criminal record is considered in proper context, and to engage in hiring practices that do not unnecessarily place jobs out of reach for those with criminal records. Specifically, you can commit to:

  • Banning the Box by delaying criminal history questions until later in the hiring process;
  • Training human resources staff on making fair decisions regarding applicants with criminal records;
  • Ensuring internships and job training are available to individuals with criminal records;
  • Using reliable background check providers to help ensure accuracy;
  • Hosting a Fair Chance and Opportunity Job Fair