Not only can a Fair Chance Program (Second Chance Program) provide your business with a steady pipeline of team members, it also has the power to help change lives.
By Marcus Sheanshang, President and CEO, JBM Packaging
According to the most recent reports, while job openings have declined since the pandemic, an estimated 808,000 open positions remain in the manufacturing sector. This has stifled supply chains across the globe. As a manufacturer of eco-friendly, high-performing flexible packaging solutions, we’ve not entirely escaped this trend. However, we have a program that has helped maintain a steady pipeline of workers during this slowdown.
About five years ago, I learned about Second Chance programs at my church. Our team had assessed the business impact of staffing shortages as we anticipated the retirement of several tenured team members. We decided to explore the possibilities of how a Second Chance program could improve our business. After spending time with several people who committed felonies and served their sentences, I realized that despite the stigma associated with the formerly incarcerated, very little separates people with records from people without records. The primary difference is that the people who spent time in jail made a poor decision—and they got caught doing it.
Wanting to create meaningful change in our business and local community, we started our Fair Chance program in October 2016. We opted to call it “Fair Chance” because we felt that “Second Chance” inferred “second class.” Our goal was to give people a fair chance at employment by providing transferable job training and career opportunities. At this time, our Fair Chance program is the source of talent for approximately one-third of our team members, several of whom started on the production floor and have since been promoted into managerial roles.
Second Chance – 5 Steps to Success
Seeing the incredible impact this program has had on our business, we hope to become a model for other companies looking to implement similar programs. If you’re entertaining implementing a Fair Chance program, here are five steps that can help ensure its success:
- Make it a priority: It has to start with leadership for your program to succeed. Fair Chance can completely transform your culture by providing purpose. However, for that to happen, everyone in the company needs to be brought in and willing to offer support to the individuals involved.
- Determine your target profile: We set criteria around who can participate in our program. Currently, we do not work with anyone who has committed a crime against women, children or sexual offenses. We also look closely at any violent-related crimes to better understand the circumstances. Further, we ask that candidates be committed to living our core values and making our company a better place. Ultimately, we’re looking for people who have developed a plan to change their lives and are actively working to improve themselves. If you need an extra hand with this, find a staffing agency near your area. Chicago temp staffing is a great example of a trustworthy partner in your business endeavors.
- Create a network of support partners: We learned early on that we couldn’t provide all of the support our Fair Chance team members needed as a company. After, identifying some of the most common barriers to re-entry, such as transportation and housing, we looked for organizations and partners within our community who could assist our team members with these resources. Meeting regularly with these agencies, we have continued to strengthen our partnership to ensure we’re best serving the needs of everyone involved.
- Develop internal support: Many of our team members are learning new ways to live in pursuit of a happier and healthier lifestyle. To support them in their journey, we have a full-time coach that assists with goal setting and accountability. By providing trauma response training to team leaders and managers, we also equip them with the tools to effectively deal with various situations that may arise.
- Celebrate success: As team members reach milestones in their journey toward a better life, we make every effort to recognize their hard work and reward them accordingly. For example, each spring, we host a graduation celebration for team members who have completed our coaching program. A clearly defined career path also helps them identify goals to continue growing at work and in their personal lives.
Not only can a Fair Chance Program provide your business with a steady pipeline of team members, it also has the power to help change lives. When people come out of jail, they have a lot of anxiety about the barriers they will face. By providing a job and resources for housing, transportation and financial guidance, you can help them make that transition and support them in a path to becoming effective contributors to the community while also evolving into the best version of themselves.
If you’d like to explore what a Fair Chance Program can do for your business, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We aspire to become a role model for a profitable, purpose-driven business and welcome the opportunity to assist you on your journey.
Marcus Sheanshang is President and CEO of JBM Packaging, a provider of eco-friendly, high-performing, flexible packaging solutions and contract packaging services. For more information about JBM and its Fair Chance Program, please go to https://www.jbmpackaging.com/industries/fair-chance-program/.