US Businesses Look to Bring Ex-Offenders Back into the Workforce

US Businesses Look to Bring Ex-Offenders Back into the Workforce

In the US, one in three adults, or around 70 million people, have some form of criminal records, while 20 million Americans have been convicted of a felony. These records often serve to shut otherwise qualified candidates out of all but the least-skilled and lowest-paying jobs. Black and Latino men, who make up a disproportionate share of the prison and ex-offender population, suffer the most from this barrier to employment. The inability to get a good job leaves many former prisoners with few options for escaping a life of crime, and studies have shown that gainful employment for ex-felons is one of the most effective deterrents to recidivism, which means employers play a key role in helping reintegrate former prisoners into society.

With unemployment below 4 percent, more job openings than candidates, and many US employers struggling to find the workers they need, the stigma attached to criminal backgrounds in employment now stands to harm not only individuals and communities, but also businesses. “It is morally and economically bad for our country if we do not start removing barriers that prevent returning citizens from a shot at a better life after they have paid their debt to society,” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and former secretary of education Arne Duncan write in an op-ed at the Chicago Tribune. “Business should be at the forefront of solving this challenge. Frankly, it’s in our best interest to do so.”

Dimon and Duncan point to several initiatives going on in the Chicago area and around the country to create employment opportunities for ex-convicts and people at risk of being swept up in the criminal justice system:

First, Boeing and a number of other organizations are partnering on Heartland Alliance’s READI Chicago initiative. This two-year program is trying to reduce gun violence by providing returning citizens and others susceptible to gun violence with employment, job training and support services. Programs like this can help reduce recidivism rates, decrease neighborhood crime and promote economic opportunity.

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How Can We Turn Employees Into Catalysts for Culture Change?

How Can We Turn Employees Into Catalysts for Culture Change?

Among the HR leaders we surveyed for our latest company culture research at CEB, now Gartner, only 31 percent said their organizations had the culture they needed to accomplish their strategic goals. What’s holding organizations back from getting the culture they need to drive performance? We identified three key reasons:

  1. Employees aren’t aware of the desired culture (knowledge gap).
  2. Employees don’t believe in the desired culture (mindset gap).
  3. Employee behaviors don’t align with the designed culture (behavior gap).

The more than 70 HRBPs, HR generalists, and other strategic HR professionals who attended our recent staff briefing in Chicago shared how these gaps affected their own culture change initiatives—and they drove home another key finding of our research: employees need to be empowered to help facilitate the change, and in a systemic way.

One of our members at the meeting said that despite promoting a culture of open and honest communication, employees at their organization could still end up getting reprimanded for speaking candidly.

Another attendee talked about what they called the “plumbing and wiring” of processes that underlie what culture really is and can lead to misalignments between what they communicate and the reality of how work actually gets done. (An organization where managers talk up a culture of efficiency but employees are regularly going through 100 steps to complete tasks or processes may not have the culture its leaders think it does.)

A third member pointed to the struggle of employees who, after multiple culture-change campaigns, have been inundated with so much messaging that they don’t know what to believe or how to behave. “How,” this attendee asked, “will they know what ‘true north’ is?”

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McDonald’s Is Moving to Where the Talent Wants to Be

McDonald’s Is Moving to Where the Talent Wants to Be

McDonald’s recently announced plans to relocate its corporate headquarters from the leafy suburb of Oak Brook, Illinois to the West Town neighborhood in the heart of Chicago. As the Chicago Tribune’s Samantha Bomkamp explains, the move is part of an effort by CEO Steve Easterbrook to revamp the fast-food giant’s business and modernize its image—in this case, by making it a more appealing place for young talent to work:

McDonald’s will move by spring 2018 to the former site of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios at 1045 W. Randolph St., which was home to “The Oprah Winfrey Show” for 25 years. The move will bring McDonald’s corporate employees, which currently number about 2,000, from the suburban village to the hustle and bustle of a burgeoning part of the city that is home to some of Chicago’s most popular restaurants, like Girl and the Goat and Au Cheval.

In its bid to attract talent, McDonald’s will join a roster of heavy hitters that already have or plan to move from the suburbs to the city — marquee names like Motorola Solutions, Kraft Heinz, Gogo, Hillshire Brands, Beam Suntory and ConAgra. Rumors that McDonald’s was considering a move have been swirling for months.

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