Last Updated on February 2, 2023 by BVN
On January 27, 2023, LA County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell and the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) announced the goal to secure 200 local businesses committed to hiring system-impacted individuals this year.
Mitchell and the DEO joined business and community leaders to launch the Fair Chance Hiring Program, encouraging the county’s business community to adopt Fair Chance hiring practices.
The program launch was held at Earvin “Magic” Johnson Recreation Center and featured endorsements and speeches from Mitchell and county department heads, as well as remarks from Fair Chance employers Clark Construction and Everytable.
Business leaders who have adopted Fair Chance hiring practices had the opportunity to speak with employers who have not yet hired system-impacted individuals, dialoguing on the proven benefits and breaking down misconceptions surrounding previously incarcerated individuals reentering the workforce.
DEO has partnered with organizations Root & Rebound and LeadersUp to assist in providing resources and connections for the program.
“Equity starts with a fair chance,” said Mitchell in her opening remarks. “I am proud to join the Department of Economic Opportunity in launching this initiative that provides mutual benefits for businesses and residents impacted by our justice system to succeed.”
“We have a dedicated and motivated workforce ready to meet the moment in this tight labor market, and we are urging businesses to stand with us in creating thriving communities by providing economic opportunity to local and qualified residents,” added Mitchell.
The nationwide unemployment rate across system-impacted individuals is over 27%, with more than 650,000 individuals returning from incarceration annually. The Fair Chance hiring program aims to increase awareness of the 2018 California Fair Chance Act, a “Ban the Box” law that prohibits employers with more than five employees from asking about the conviction history of an applicant.
“Fair chance hiring is good for the community and it’s good for business too,” said DEO Director Kelly LoBianco. “By working with our America’s Job Centers of California, local businesses, who have reported hiring challenges across sectors, will now have access to a massive talent pool of local, diverse, and qualified workers ready to meet that hiring need while also ensuring that we drive competitive and inclusive growth right here in LA County.”
“We are in the midst of one of the tightest markets for skilled labor the construction industry has ever seen,” says Kwaku Gyabaah, Senior Vice President and business unit leader at Clark Construction Group. “By recruiting system-impacted individuals to our industry, we can expand economic opportunity for those who often face barriers accessing employment while also addressing the labor shortage. We look forward to working alongside other businesses in LA County to break down barriers for those who have gone through the criminal justice system.”
“LeadersUp has been a consistent advocate and workforce champion for system-impacted individuals,” said Jeffery Wallace, Commissioner of LA County Workforce Development Board and the CEO of LeadersUp. “We’re humbled to follow Supervisor Mitchell’s leadership. Her ability to challenge our county to imagine a brighter future fuels how we achieve our goals. Our research has been met with dedicated and intentional practice in our communities. We are ecstatic to continue working with business leaders and growing employers on their hiring practices. Together, we can give our neighbors across the county a real and fair chance to achieve their career goals.”
Highlighting Fair Chance success stories
The launch event featured an art installation by photographer Brandon Tauszik, who took portraits of several Los Angeles system-impacted individuals who have successfully gained employment through Fair Chance hiring, as well as each individual’s employer. Each portrait featured a statement from the individual, sharing the experiences of those returning to their communities and the workforce and the managers who gave them a fair chance.
“People with criminal records experience over 44,000 barriers to reentry, including securing employment,” said Carmen Garcia, Executive Director of Root & Rebound. “With a livable income, system-impacted people can financially support themselves and their loved ones, lowering the risk of recidivism, creating safer communities, and reducing racial disparities in economic outcomes. Root & Rebound is excited to partner with LA County in this Fair Chance Hiring Program to elevate and create more job opportunities for our system-impacted incarcerated community members.”
The Fair Chance program will continue to host information sessions for businesses and system-impacted individuals until June. Information sessions for system-impacted job seekers will offer the opportunity to connect with potential employers, learn more about Fair Chance hiring laws and legal support, receive free livescan services, and identify career pathways in high-growth industries in LA County. For more information on the Fair Chance program and upcoming events, visit opportunity.lacounty.gov.