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Why JPMorgan Chase believes “second chances” are good for business

JPMorgan Chase

May 02, 2024

One in three Americans has an arrest or conviction record, creating significant barriers to employment for millions of working-age adults. Many of these are worthy and qualified candidates that companies could be tapping to fill job openings across the country, including in Columbus. However, they face obstacles to securing that good job.

April is Second Chance Month, a time to recognize the importance of lifting up this population and to acknowledge the cost of keeping them on the sidelines, which is nearly $87 billion in economic growth annually in the United States.

JPMorgan Chase firmly believes if you paid your debt to society, you should be allowed to work, which is why the firm continues to remove barriers to employment and create opportunities for people with records. Over the last three years, approximately 10 percent of the firm’s new hires in the U.S. have been individuals with criminal records that pose no risk to safety and soundness. In Ohio, the firm has hired more than 500 such individuals over the last five years.

“Helping people who have fulfilled their justice system obligations is not only the right thing to do, it is good for business,” said Corrine Burger, Columbus’ location leader for JPMorgan Chase. “It helps people move on from their records to build stable lives, improve their financial health and participate in the workforce. Providing these individuals access to sustainable economic opportunities enables them to be a productive member of their communities, which reduces recidivism and helps develop a stronger, more resilient economy.”

In 2018, JPMorgan Chase “banned the box,” removing the question about criminal backgrounds from job applications and conducting individualized assessments only after a conditional offer of employment has been made. This was in tandem with the creation of the firm’s community hiring models, which launched in cities with large employee footprints—including Columbus, where JPMorgan Chase has more than 18,000 employees. JPMorgan Chase works with local community and legal-aid partners to support job candidates, including those with a criminal background in finding employment at the firm and elsewhere.

The results led JPMorgan Chase to co-found the Second Chance Business Coalition in 2021. The cross-sector group brings together large employers committed to expanding their own second chance hiring efforts and shares best practices for recruitment and advancement strategies. The coalition recently welcomed the National Basketball Association (NBA) as its 50th member.

In addition to inclusive hiring practices, JPMorgan Chase hosts pro-bono expungement clinics at community branches to help those pursuing expungement of eligible criminal records, which can be a costly and complicated process. This can unlock life-changing opportunities for jobs and housing. The firm has hosted two clinics in Columbus, and more clinics are planned for 2024.

JPMorgan Chase also provides philanthropic and programmatic support to organizations helping to reduce barriers to opportunity for individuals with a criminal record. In Columbus, the firm supported Reach Success to provide financial literacy workshops for justice-involved individuals to help them upon re-entry into the community.

“Sometimes people that made mistakes never had the chance to do anything differently,” said Bill Horning, founder of Reach Success. “If we can give them a vision of a different world, it’s amazing what they can become.”

To continue to change the narrative around second chance hiring, it will take continued support of common-sense policy reform and partnerships across many sectors to provide justice-involved individuals with the resources they need. JPMorgan Chase couldn’t do this work without its partners – Goodwill Columbus and The Legal Aid of Southeast and Central Ohio.

To learn more about JPMorgan Chase’s efforts to strengthen communities and boost the workforce, click here.

This story originally appeared in Columbus Business Journal.