In fact, in two decades as an entrepreneur, ERI founder and chief executive John Shegerian says he has given hundreds of former felons an opportunity to start over. His involvement started in 1993 shortly after the LA Riots when he founded Homeboy Industries, a non-profit set up to help provide ex-gang members with jobs.
Today he proudly boasts that over 60 of his current employees were formerly incarcerated, in substance abuse programs or on welfare. Many of them are now in management at his company which is the nation’s leading recycler of electronic waste (think old TVs and computers) . Shegerian hopes talking about his experiences will encourage more businesses to give people with criminal records a shot:
“Most CEOs and HR directors have a good heart and want to help people who need a second chance, but the four-letter “F” word gets in the way: fear. My advice to them is to overcome it, because it’s a great experience for their company and their community to hire people who need that chance. This is now the time for all businesses across the U.S. to open their hearts and open their doors.”
Shegerian sounds a lot like Jeff Brown, who I wrote about in an earlier post. Brown, who founded Philadelphia-based Shop Rite Fresh Foods, is also very upfront about the benefits of bringing motivated ex-offenders on board. What do you think? Are there other employers you’ve encountered who espouse this belief?