New York is First State in the Nation with Employer Pledge
More Than 80 Companies Have Taken the Pledge, Including the Target Corporation, Staples, Fresh Direct, and VICE Media - Complete List Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the official launch of the Work for Success Pledge, an online pledge in which businesses commit to consider hiring qualified individuals with criminal convictions. New York is the first state in the nation to develop such a pledge. More than 80 companies who do business in New York, including Fresh Direct, the Target Corporation, Staples, and VICE Media, have already signed on to the Pledge. Other employers are encouraged to sign on at this link .
"Providing job training and opportunities to New Yorkers with criminal histories is proven to help break the vicious cycle of recidivism and increase public safety," Governor Cuomo said. "The Work for Success Pledge will help provide a chance for these individuals to reenter society and build stronger communities. I thank these businesses for signing up for this critically important program and I urge others to join them."
Lieutenant Governor Hochul said, "When we write off segments of our population because of a single set of circumstances or mistakes made in their past, we deny society of their contributions, and they are denied a chance at a better life. Governor Cuomo's Work for Success Pledge helps bring formally incarcerated individuals into the mainstream, economically and socially, while helping connect employers to a qualified workforce. Let's remember Jesse Hawley, the man who crafted the original blueprint of the Erie Canal, had a criminal record - and without him, one of the greatest public works of all time may not have been created."
The Work for Success Employer Pledge was launched at an event held today at VICE Media in Brooklyn. The event featured Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, and Alphonso David, Counsel to the Governor, as well as representatives from Action Environmental, Ben & Jerry's, ConBody, and VICE Media, and Chris Watler, Executive Director for Center for Employment Opportunities New York, who discussed the benefits of hiring formerly incarcerated individuals. Find photos from the event here and video from the event here.
The Pledge provides an opportunity for companies to publicly showcase their company's practice of considering people with criminal convictions for employment. The Pledge does not require employers to hire any particular individual or numbers of individuals but to conduct, as necessary, individualized assessments of whether a conviction affects a person's suitability for the job. A complete list of the signatory companies can be found here.
The Governor also announced that over 18,000 formerly incarcerated people have been hired through New York's Work for Success program. The program, launched in February 2012, connects individuals with criminal convictions with jobs through the New York State Department of Labor's job bank, at no cost to the listing businesses or the individual job-seeker. To date, over 14,000 businesses have hired qualified employees through the program, giving those businesses the talent they need to run their businesses and stay competitive, and giving employees a much-needed way to support themselves and their families, benefitting all New Yorkers. Companies signing the Work for Success Employer Pledge also agree to list suitable jobs with the Work for Success program.
The event was hosted by VICE Media, a signee of the Pledge, due to the success of the VICE Apprenticeship Program, which hires and trains formerly incarcerated people for production, editorial and creative jobs at the company. The VICE Apprenticeship is born out of VICE's longtime activism and support for formerly incarcerated people, which includes Fixing the System, an hour long documentary that gave viewers an in-depth look at America's broken criminal justice system, featuring President Obama's historic visit with inmates at the El Reno prison in Oklahoma.
Nearly 1 in 3 American adults have a criminal record, and there are 2.3 million individuals with a prior New York State criminal conviction. Currently, only 47% of people able to work on NYS parole are employed. While New York State law requires companies to consider hiring people with criminal convictions, many of these individuals, meet resistance and discrimination when trying to reenter the workforce -- one study found that, in New York City, a criminal record reduced the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent. Governor Cuomo launched the Work for Success Pledge to encourage companies to hire those with previous criminal convictions and enable their smooth reentry after leaving prison. New research on military recruits suggests that recruits with felony convictions have higher promotion rates than their colleagues without such records and that their disciplinary records are no worse than that of their non-convicted peers.
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta L. Reardon said, "Work for Success is continuing to bolster New York's workforce with qualified and motivated employees from across the State. With vital engagement from businesses in the private sector, we are continuing to create opportunities for individuals and their families to take part in a competitive job market. This is a win/win for businesses and the state, and we are safer and more economically robust because of this program."
Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "I commend Governor Cuomo and all the businesses that have signed this pledge, which will help to ensure an easier re-entry to those who have worked so hard to turn their lives around. The 'Work for Success Pledge' will provide significant employment opportunities for candidates with felony records."
Rachel Love, Director of Human Resources for VICE Media, said, "The Work for Success Pledge is going to drastically increase the hiring of people with criminal records in New York State, and I don't just commend Governor Cuomo and his team, I also call upon other elected officials to create similar initiatives. Of the many issues we have taken on at VICE, I think the one for which we can be most proud is the VICE Apprenticeship Program, which hires and trains formerly incarcerated people for production and creative jobs at our company. The goal is not just to provide these people with an opportunity to work with some of the brightest writers, editors and producers, but also with the skills they need to hold quality jobs for life. It has been incredibly rewarding to help make a difference for these people, and to provide them with an opportunity upon their release from prison."
Ron Bergamini, CEO of Action Environmental Group, said, "This is important topic and a discussion such as this will dispel many false assumptions. We have hired many decent hard working folks who simple want to make an honest living. Our partnership with CEO group has inspired us from the beginning and continue to do so."
Regis Mulot, Chief Human Resources Officer, Staples, Inc., said, "We applaud New York State for publicizing the importance of hiring people with criminal backgrounds. With one-third of the U.S. population holding some type of conviction, businesses are hurting themselves by not considering this massive talent-rich pool, not to mention hurting those individuals who are trying to start anew. Giving people a second chance is good ethics, and hiring hard-working and loyal employees is good business." Regis Mulot, Staples Inc., EVP and Chief HR Officer
Chris Watler, NYS Executive Director, Center for Employment Opportunities, said, "Everyone benefits when job seekers with a criminal conviction are given a fair chance to get hired. I applaud the Governor for highlighting the efforts of businesses around that state that are successfully employing qualified men and women that need a second chance."