Durham, N.C. — This week, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice launched the Fair Chance Business Certification. Similar to Living Wage certifications, this program celebrates businesses who are open to hiring people with criminal records. The major criteria for certification is “banning the box” — an approach of shifting questions about criminal records to later in the hiring process. This approach allows businesses to consider people for their qualifications first and not solely their history.
“The Fair Chance Business Certification is part of a major cultural shift that encourages businesses to view people for more than the sum of their worst mistakes. We envision a world where people are hired because they are simply the best person for the job,” said Kristen Powers, Advocacy Coordinator at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “There are plenty of lists out there already with companies that hire people with records. The goal of this certification, rather, is to create a community of businesses that are standing up for their employees and encouraging other businesses to do the same.”
All businesses are eligible for Fair Chance Business Certification. They can go to the Fair Chance Business webpage to fill out a demographic survey and submit a copy of their job applications to demonstrate that they have successfully removed initial questions about criminal records.
Upon certification, businesses will become part of a larger Fair Chance Business Community which will eventually include educational newsletters, lunch and learns, talking points, free promotional material, as well as connections to mentorships and best practices for advancing equitable hiring practices.
The inaugural group of certified businesses includes Ben & Jerry’s Chapel Hill, Principal Janitorial Services, and Bull City Olive Oil.
“We applied for certification because we wanted to show our commitment to the community. Many of these folks have already paid their debt to society. We should not shut them out of the workforce forever because of a past mistake. We are proud of our employees from all walks of life here. Their commitment to our mission is unmatched,” said Antonio Broom of Ben & Jerry’s Chapel Hill.