Walk a mile in our shoes, but not ones that are too small, of poor quality, and designed for the short term”. Mike Neubig

The White-Collar Justice impacted community (WJIC) is made up of diverse professionals in lawyers, CEO’s, bankers, physicians, entrepreneurs, and businesspeople who had worked their way to the top of their professions. Most also have one or multiple graduate level degrees.

Somewhere along our path, we made a mistake that cost us years of our lives while also losing friends, family members, spouses, children, and the public ridicule that goes with it. We understand that we are responsible for our mistakes and regret the place we put ourselves. But does that mean that our professional value should forever be diminished?

Groups that support Fair Chance hiring, such as 70 Million JobsHonest Jobs have broken new ground. Bringing the issue to the forefront and partnering with companies to provide employment for justice impacted individuals. Checkr, Inc. is nearing 6% of company being Justice Impacted. But, there’s whole new level of effort needed for the WJIC.

My personal experience with hundreds of interviews reveals unique, significant challenges. The jobs listed on the 2nd chance sites are largely labor, food service, transportation, customer service, warehousing, and so forth. The sales jobs are mostly for local, non-tech-based organizations. There’s nothing wrong with these jobs for those whose skills and experience are appropriate. But are they appropriate as the only option for the WJIC?

In applying for these jobs, employers often respond we are too skilled and worry about longevity in the role. Also, many of us are screened out as WJIC are often higher-level felonies that exclude candidates. Subsequently, since many of us had extensive professional careers prior to our convictions, we are often too old for these positions. That leaves us applying for management roles where our backgrounds and skills are appropriate, but the employer does not trust us with the nature of the conviction. I have been told, even though I was the best candidate, I cannot be trusted in the role. The remaining option is to start another business or take a low level, manual labor position that will not contribute to our future upward mobility. So, where do we go with this mountain in front of us?

White Collar crimes are not popular with the community. They are viewed as selfish, sneaky, corrupted, without remorse and enacted by self-centered, arrogant spoiled adults who misused their powerful position. Some of this may be true at the time of the crime, but is it true 5 plus years later?

I hope to bring awareness to the challenge the WJIC faces in bias, trust and finding appropriate employment. Fair Chance Hiring is NOT low-level hiring. This would mean Fair Chance companies saying, we have hired hundreds of justice impacted individuals, but only the lowest level, safest positions. This is progress, but should it be the goal? #hiring

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