The Council for Court Excellence and D.C.'s Department of Small and Local Business Development challenge businesses and consumers to take the "Fair Chance Business Pledge." This pledge represents a call-to-action for all members of D.C.'s private sector to improve their community by eliminating barriers for those with a criminal record who are returning home. We urge the D.C. business community to stand in support of our returning neighbors and help us reduce barriers facing those who are striving to find work and have a strong desire to be contributing members of our society once again.
One in every 8 adult residents in D.C. has a criminal record. Three months after returning home from prison, 40 percent of people on supervision are still unemployed. However, we know that people who are employed are less likely to commit new crimes. This call to action is a targeted effort to go beyond "banning the box," to convene leaders, identify effective strategies, and work together to accomplish the shared goal of creating a stronger set of opportunities for people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Together, we reject stigma and work toward building better opportunities for thousands of District of Columbia residents, their families, and the entire city by helping returning citizens move beyond second chances to fulfill their full potential.
The D.C. Fair Chance Business Pledge is a District-wide effort to take action. Those who pledge commit to fair hiring practices for returning citizens, and to give support to businesses that hire fairly and/or are run by returning citizens.
"______________________ (insert name of company or person) applauds the growing number of public and private sector organizations nationwide who are taking action to ensure that all Washingtonians have the opportunity to succeed, including individuals who have had contact with the criminal justice system. When approximately 67,000 Washingtonians – nearly one in eight adults – have a criminal record, it is important to remove unnecessary barriers that may prevent these individuals from gaining access to employment, training, education and other basic tools required for success in life. We are committed to providing people with criminal records, including formerly incarcerated people, a fair chance to participate in the D.C. economy."
Examples of Ways To Take Action
In addition to signing on to the pledge language above, we ask you and your company to make specific commitments that demonstrate the type of action your company will take to achieve the goal of promoting opportunity for all, eliminating barriers to reentry, and providing meaningful opportunities to succeed for reentering individuals. Examples include:
(1) PROMOTE FAIR CHANCE HIRING PRACTICES. The most important contribution businesses can make to this effort is to give a fair chance to all applicants, to ensure that information regarding an applicant's criminal record is considered in the proper context, and to engage in hiring practices that do not unnecessarily place jobs out of reach for people with criminal records. Specifically, you can commit to:
- Train human resources staff to make fair decisions regarding applicants with criminal records, in accordance with D.C.'s Ban the Box law, and report data on the number of applicants hired to the Office of the D.C. Auditor;
- Ensure jobs, internships and job training are available to individuals with criminal records;
- Use reliable background check providers to help ensure accuracy;
- Commit to considering applicants whose last conviction was five or more years ago as if they have no criminal record; and
- Host a Fair Chance and Opportunity Job Fair.
(2) PROMOTE FAIR BUYING PRACTICES. These range from fair business-to-business purchasing arrangements, to supporting small and solo entrepreneurs through fair bargaining, and consumer purchasing. Specifically you can commit to:
- Offer mentorship to returning citizen business owners;
- Make referrals for returning citizen businesses equally;
- Ensure sales and business to business opportunities are available to new returning citizen businesses; and
- Give fair terms to returning citizen businesses in contract and sales.
(3) TAKING ACTION IN YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY. While the focus is on fair chance opportunity, there are other important ways for businesses to contribute to this effort, such as:
- Supply tools for success (business clothing, cell phones, internet service, transit cards, or child care services);
- Offer support to people living in Hope Village and Fairview halfway houses; and
- Provide mentors to children of incarcerated parents through a partnership with the Mayor's Office on Returning Citizen Affairs.
We welcome any additional commitments that achieve the goal of promoting fair chance hiring, eliminating barriers to reentry, and providing meaningful opportunities for all to succeed.
By taking the Pledge, you are joining a community of local partners that believes in helping returning citizens move beyond second chances to fulfill their full potential. We encourage you to share best practices and success stories with other employers.
The Council for Court Excellence will share the list pledge signatories on this webpage.