Charles Koch, chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, today challenged business leaders attending The Seminar Network’s winter meeting to build on the momentum of the recently passed First Step Act by utilizing tools and best practices to open opportunities for individuals with criminal records who are pursuing a second chance.
“As business people, we have so many opportunities we aren’t even aware of to make our country better and help people improve their lives. This is one of them,” said Koch.
“If all of us got fully engaged, think of the difference we could make to create second chances, reduce crime and poverty, and improve the quality of life for so many people,” he said. “So, I challenge all of us, as business leaders, to take this important next step together.”
Responding to the call to action, various members of The Seminar Network pledged to change their hiring practices to open doors for qualified people with criminal backgrounds who have earned second chance opportunities.
The call coincides with the launch of the Getting Talent Back to Work initiative, presented by SHRM—the Society for Human Resource Management. At this weekend’s event, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and CEO of SHRM, unveiled a new best practices toolkit to enhance organizational hiring policies, and help businesses navigate regulatory and legal barriers when considering applicants with a criminal record.
“This is a group we, as business leaders, cannot afford to overlook as nearly 1 in 3 adults in the United States currently has a criminal background,” said Taylor. “Not only is it the right thing to do—to give a deserving person a second chance—but it is becoming imperative as businesses continue to experience recruiting difficulty at an alarming rate.”
Chris Wright, a Seminar Network partner and founding shareholder and executive chairman of Liberty Resources LLC., appeared at this weekend’s event with Weldon Angelos who was sentenced in 2004 to 55 years in prison for a non-violent drug offense. Wright hired Angelos following Angelos’ release from prison in 2016.
In a statement, Wright said he was excited to see more businesses accept the challenge of hiring people like Angelos who want to improve their lives.
“Due to legal barriers and cultural stigma, individuals with a criminal record often face massive barriers when seeking employment,” said Wright.
Wright said his company has “consistently seen the economic and societal benefits of this largely untapped pool of talent.”
“Through utilizing best practices in SHRM’s toolkit, other business will be better equipped to navigate the legal and regulatory barriers that often prevent them from hiring these individuals, and creating conditions where their business, and society at large, benefits,” he said.
Mark Holden, senior vice president and general counsel of Koch Industries, previously helped unite a bipartisan group of reform advocates to solidify support for the First Step Act. Holden applauded the new initiative, noting that Koch Industries “banned the box” in 2015 and has considered and hired people with criminal records for decades.
“Our nation just took a major first step toward helping people who want an opportunity to transform their lives – now we’re pledging to take the next step,” said Holden.
“Koch is incredibly proud to offer second chances to qualified people with a criminal record and now, thanks to SHRM, more businesses will have the tools needed to hire these individuals,” he said. “By taking this next step, we can create stronger families, a more robust workforce, and safe communities for all.”