Untapped Talent

Jeff Korzenik takes a business approach to hiring ex-cons:
And it’s working

It’s a disciplined and realistic look at this issue. Within the pages of the book, readers will learn more about the business leaders who have led the way in giving people a chance. Beyond numerous lessons and anecdotes throughout the book, an entire chapter is devoted to the case study of an Ohio manufacturer, whose business and company culture were transformed by this experience. 

Why this matters: The United States has 19 million people with a felony conviction, including one in three Black men. Along with the additional tens of millions burdened with misdemeanor convictions, “people with records” represent an enormous underutilized labor resource.

  • On a macroeconomic level, higher workforce growth drives faster growth for everyone. The United States, and virtually the whole world faces a demographic challenge ahead. Our best opportunity lies in bringing marginalized workers into employment and giving them a chance to be as productive as possible.
  • On a company level, using the model explained in the book, second chance employees are on average more engaged and more loyal, leading to lower turnover costs and higher productivity. Contributing to a worthy social cause in this way makes companies more attractive to investors, employees and customers alike.
  • On a societal level, this is the right thing to do, one of the most important ways businesses can engage in solving social problems. When people who have made a mistake and paid for that error continue to suffer the penalty of workforce barriers, we create injustice, reduced public safety, family dysfunction, and intergenerational poverty. As a country, we cannot hope to get to equality of opportunity across racial lines, until we offer people the opportunity to move beyond their worst moment. Second chance hiring is the solution. The road to a better society must be paved by the business community, and “Untapped Talent” is the map.

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