Philanthropic leaders from 42 foundations announced late last month that they have banned the box, joining a decade-long movement that has spread to 21 states and more than 100 localities.
The foundations, all members and allies of the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, have committed to adopting second-chance hiring policies or ensuring that questions about criminal convictions do not appear on their employment applications. The ultimate goal: to increase employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated job seekers in the philanthropic sector.
Foundations take action as employers to ban the box
The Alliance, through its Ban the Box Philanthropy Challenge, invites other foundations to join them. Although foundations have funded “ban the box” efforts across the country, now for the first time they are being encouraged to take action as employers to help rectify the problems that formerly incarcerated job seekers face.
“It is time to end the pervasive discrimination against people with past criminal records. The era of mass incarceration and the war on drugs have done severe damage to families and communities, with an enormously disproportionate impact on people of color,” says Tim Silard, president of the Rosenberg Foundation “All employers can be leaders in ensuring that a prior conviction does not mean a lifetime of unemployment. Everyone deserves a second chance and the opportunity to compete for a job.”
This call to action follows positive developments in the private sector led by companies like Target, Starbucks and Facebook.
More than one-third of American adults have criminal records
The need to ban the box is urgent. More than 70 million – nearly one in three – American adults have arrest or conviction records that might appear in background checks, limiting their possibilities for employment.
In addition to issuing the challenge, the Alliance has commissioned the National Employment Law Project to develop a Model Fair Chance Hiring Policy and Toolkit for employers in the philanthropic sector.
Among actions foundations are being encouraged to take are:
- To remove “the box” from employment applications.
- Leave background checks till the end of the hiring process.
- Integrate the U.S. EEOC’s (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines into hiring considerations.
- Adopt strong standards of transparency and accuracy.
The actions of the philanthropic sector set an example for others to follow. It will be interesting to see how many others do.