We held our first Fair Chance Hiring Summit last week on June 7, 2017. We had a mix of employers and service providers in attendance to discuss the benefits of hiring the formerly incarcerated. The summit is the first of many employer events we plan to hold in the Orange County area.
We developed the summit as part of our employer outreach efforts. Reentry success depends on having a supportive community. This includes having employers who use fair chance hiring practices that give the formerly incarcerated a second chance. The summit included a presentation on fair chance hiring and reentry by Stephanie Hammerwold, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Pacific Reentry Career Services. Jeffrey Malek of Malek & Malek presented on hiring best practices and background checks.
Our employment success stories panel featured Quinton Hamilton of Higher Level Processing, Inc., Dean Bramlett of Crown Ace Hardware and Meghan Medlin of Taller San Jose Hope Builders. All three panelists made a strong case for hiring the reentry population. Bramlett shared stories of employees she hired who had a record and went on to have longevity at her company. Because the formerly incarcerated often have to work hard to land a job, they have a strong understanding of the value of that job and can end up being some of the most loyal employees. Hamilton's experience matched Bramlett's, and he offered examples of times he helped reentry employees find simple solutions to things like transportation to work. Often all it takes is small actions of supporting and believing in reentry employees to help them achieve employment success.
The event culminated in breakout groups where attendees had a chance to share questions, concerns and feedback about hiring the formerly incarcerated. We will be compiling this information into a report to share with attendees and the reentry service providers in an effort to foster strong connections between employers and job seekers.
We want to give a big thank you the Orange County Re-Entry Partnership (OCREP) for supporting our summit and special thanks to OCREP Director Meghan Medlin of Taller San Jose Hope Builders and OCREP Assistant Director Ashley Baribeault-Vlcan of Working Wardrobes. Thanks also to the Orange County One-Stop Center in Irvine and Matthew Macauley for providing the space for our summit. Thanks to the Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for helping promote the event, and thanks to Rosemary Touyanou for being at our summit to share information on Santiago Canyon College's free classes.
Stay tuned to our blog for more information from the summit, and mark your calendar for Tuesday, July 11 at 3 p.m. for the OCREP general meeting where we will review our findings for the summit and talk about how we can better prepare formerly incarcerated job seekers for employment success.