From The White House, Office of the Secretary
April 11, 2015
For Immediate Release
FACT SHEET: White House Launches the Fair Chance Business Pledge
“Now, a lot of time, [a] record disqualifies you from being a full participant in our society -- even if you’ve already paid your debt to society. It means millions of Americans have difficulty even getting their foot in the door to try to get a job much less actually hang on to that job. That's bad for not only those individuals, it's bad for our economy. It’s bad for the communities that desperately need more role models who are gainfully employed. So we’ve got to make sure Americans who’ve paid their debt to society can earn their second chance."
– President Barack Obama, Rutgers University, November 2, 2015
Today at the White House, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, and other White House officials hosted 19 companies from across the American economy who are standing with the Obama Administration as founding pledge takers to launch the Fair Chance Business Pledge. The pledge represents a call-to-action for all members of the private sector to improve their communities by eliminating barriers for those with a criminal record and creating a pathway for a second chance.
Companies signing the pledge today include: American Airlines, Busboys and Poets, The Coca-Cola Company, Facebook, Georgia Pacific, Google, Greyston Bakery, The Hershey Company, The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, Koch Industries, Libra Group, PepsiCo, Prudential, Starbucks, Uber, Under Amour/Plank Industries, Unilever and Xerox.
Right now, there are approximately 2.2 million Americans behind bars. The United States accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population, and 25 percent of its inmates. Each year, more than 600,000 inmates are released from federal and state prisons, and another 11.4 million individuals cycle through local jails. Around 70 million Americans have some sort of criminal record — almost one in three Americans of working age.
Too often, that record disqualifies individuals from being a full participant in their communities — even if they’ve already paid their debt to society. As a result, millions of Americans have difficulty finding employment.
Since President Obama took office, this Administration has been committed to reforming America's criminal justice system. Last summer, the President spoke about the importance of reducing barriers facing people who have been in contact with the criminal justice system and are trying to put their lives back on track. He then became the first President to visit a federal prison where he sat down with individuals who would be returning to their communities. In November, he visited with formerly incarcerated individuals and emphasized that a smarter approach to reducing crime and enhancing public safety must begin with investing in all of our communities. He also announced new efforts by this Administration to help formerly incarcerated individuals to rehabilitate and reintegrate back into their communities, including an upcoming rule from the Office of Personnel Management that will “ban the box,” delaying inquiries into criminal history until later in the federal hiring process.
Building on these efforts, the White House issued a challenge to businesses to take on the Fair Chance Business Pledge. A broad array of businesses have come together to support the reforms needed to bring about this change.
By signing the Fair Chance Business Pledge, these companies are:
Voicing strong support for economic opportunity for all, including the approximately 70 million Americans who have some form of a criminal record.
Demonstrating an ongoing commitment to take action to reduce barriers to a fair shot at a second chance, including practices like “banning the box” by delaying criminal history questions until later in the hiring process; ensuring that information regarding an applicant’s criminal record is considered in proper context; and engaging in hiring practices that do not unnecessarily place jobs out of reach for those with criminal records.
Setting an example for their peers. Today’s announcement is only the beginning. Later this year, the Obama Administration will release a second round of pledges, with a goal of mobilizing more companies and organizations to join the Fair Chance Business Pledge.
Companies and organizations interested in joining the Fair Chance Business Pledge can do so by signing up HERE.
Building on today’s announcement, in the coming weeks, the White House and the Department of Justice will host events in Washington, D.C. and across the country to amplify leaders taking steps to provide fair chance opportunities:
The Justice Department has designated the week of April 24-30, 2016, as National Reentry Week and is coordinating reentry events across the country – from job fairs, to practice interviews, to mentorship programs, to events for children of incarcerated parents – designed to help prepare inmates for release. To learn more, click HERE.
In the coming weeks, the White House will host a Champions of Change event to honor individuals expanding fair chance opportunities. The event will highlight local leaders and programs that are improving their communities by partnering with the philanthropic and private sectors to help those who have been incarcerated rehabilitate and reintegrate. To learn more, click HERE.
THE FAIR CHANCE BUSINESS PLEDGE
We applaud the growing number of public and private sector organizations nationwide who are taking action to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed, including individuals who have had contact with the criminal justice system. When around 70 million Americans – nearly one in three 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 individuals with criminal records, including formerly incarcerated individuals, a fair chance to participate in the American economy.
Read the complete press release here.