I recently met John Rush, President, and CEO for Clean Turn enterprises, right before their Passion Purpose Profit conference. Their mission is to strengthen communities with an empowered workforce by creating profitable social enterprises, and have built up quite an organization in the last 5 years. Through their work, they create employment for men and women formerly impacted by homelessness, incarceration, human trafficking, domestic violence and other challenges.
Passion Purpose Profit is an annual conference geared towards HR practices of hiring people who come from challenging backgrounds, and it was a real eye-opener for me personally. Until I had met Harley Blakeman, I had never thought about the effects of incarceration on an individual. But to realize that our prison rates have increased from 200,000 to 2,000,000 — mostly in the 1980’s, due to drugs — and to learn that more than 75% of people released will return to prison within 5 years — it just underscores a massive social issue that we need to tackle.
In our podcast, John dove into how he got started with similar work in Chicago, before coming to Columbus and launching Clean Turn (and five other businesses!) in 2012. What was really interesting to me, is that people who have previously been in prison are highly motivated and dedicated to their work, making for great hires, although they do require support with the transition. In Ohio, where unemployment is at one of it’s lowest peaks around 3% — looking for talented individuals from other places is key to a thriving workplace.
One of the main things I took away from this conversation is that it is important to visit prisons and establish connections with people before they are released so that you can build relationships ahead of time. We do this in other areas of our life, but going in to meet people in prison is not usually part of your hiring practice.
If you are in HR or have exposure to hiring employees, put the Passion Purpose Profit conference on your calendar for next year. It’s an awesome place to share ideas on how to hire talented individuals from non-traditional avenues.
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