Jamie Dimon launching coalition that aims to boost hiring of ex-cons

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If you’re struggling to find work because you’re an ex-con, try hitting up Jamie Dimon.

The hard-charging chief executive of JPMorgan Chase said this week he is helping launch and co-chair the Second Chance Business Coalition, a group that aims to expand hiring of former criminals.

“Business has an important role to play in making it easier for people with criminal backgrounds to get back on their feet,” Dimon said in a statement.

Dimon and his co-chair Craig Arnold, Chairman and CEO of power management company Eaton, said Monday they have enlisted close to 30 blue chip companies including AT&T, Bank of America, General Motors, McDonalds, Microsoft, Verizon, Walmart and Visa to join the coalition.

The corporations, which represent a combined $9.8 trillion market cap, have committed to helping former criminals, partly by sharing resources and advice. Between 70 million and 100 million US adults have a criminal record, according to the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit group.

“A felony conviction may as well be a life sentence when it comes to reentering the workforce,” Eaton’s Arnold said in a video announcing the Second Chance program. “Another hard truth is that the criminal justice system in the US disproportionately affects people of color,” added Arnold, who is African-American.

A criminal record slashes the chances of a callback or job offer by almost 50 percent, with black candidates twice as likely to be penalized for past infractions, according to a 2009 study published in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Dimon has previously said that ex-felons often “are the most loyal and hardworking … just people who made a mistake.” In 2019, JPMorgan stopped asking potential employees if they had a criminal record. Since 2018, the bank says about 10 percent of its new hires have had a criminal history.

For Dimon, a longtime champion of criminal justice reform, this move may represent a way for him to reclaim his voice in political matters. Recently, he has been noticeably absent from the ranks of CEOs calling for an end to state ID voting laws.