Uber CEO offers second chance to those with criminal records

Uber CEOIt’s not often that executives of well-known companies come out publicly in favor of giving those with criminal records a chance in the hiring process. But that’s what Travis Kalanick, co-founder and CEO of Uber, did earlier this month in an Op-ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle.

According to him, the impetus was California’s Proposition 47, which was passed in November 2014 and reclassified some nonviolent crimes that had previously been felonies as misdemeanors. Uber aligned its hiring practices accordingly.

“As a result, 3,300 people have signed up to drive with Uber to earn a living and stand on their own two feet — in one state (California) alone,” he wrote. “Imagine how many more life-changing opportunities we could create if other states followed suit.”

Kalanick’s attitude toward criminal justice evolves

Running Uber has changed Kalanick’s ideas about criminal justice reform.

“I’d never really thought deeply about criminal justice reform before starting Uber. Now I realize reform is desperately needed. For example, the FBI records many companies use to do background checks don’t include up-to-date data on whether an arrest resulted in a charge or conviction. So if someone is arrested and subsequently acquitted, their “record” may not show that they’re innocent,” he went on to state in the S.F. Chronicle piece.

No matter how you may feel about Uber or working in the so-called “sharing economy,” signing up as an Uber driver may give people in reentry or those having trouble finding work a chance to earn a little extra money or even gain self employment. Those who can’t find full-time work may choose to drive for Uber part time as a second gig – especially during the busy hours when they’re likely to make more money by picking up more riders or the late hours when rates are increased.

Uber driver pay scales

According to press reports – and drivers themselves – the pay for being an Uber driver is far less than Uber claims. In a May 27, 2014 blog posting in the Uber online newsroom, the company claims that the potential income for its UberX drivers is as much as $90,766 per year in New York City and $74,191 in San Francisco.

One Uber driver and blogger at the site I Drive With Uber says he makes between $20 and $25 per hour (in Los Angeles), and the average Uber Driver makes $19 per hour natioinwide. He also says that the average Uber driver in the U.S. can make about $40,000 after expenses and taxes but doesn’t mention whether car wear and tear is included in expenses.

Gary Campbell, a former aerospace engineer who used to drive for Uber and Lyft part time while working at Boeing, left his full-time job to be a blogger known as The Rideshare Guy.

He publishes a free Uber Driver Training Guide on his site for those who might be considering driving for Uber but want to know more about what that experience might be like. The guide covers all the basics, from pay scales and sign-up bonuses to driver and car requirements.

Those with criminal records who decide they might like to be Uber drivers may be happy to know that the company has banned the box on its application form.

And CEO Kalanick has created an opportunity for those with ambitions and willing to work hard to get back on their feet.

“Crime is wrong,” he says. “But once a person has served their time, we need to give them a second chance. Consigning millions of Americans to a life of unemployment — with all the costs that entails — may be the easier option. It’s certainly not the best one for our country.”

 

Philanthropic leaders challenge foundations to ban the box

ban the boxPhilanthropic leaders from 42 foundations announced late last month that they have banned the box, joining a decade-long movement that has spread to 21 states and more than 100 localities.

The foundations, all members and allies of the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, have committed to adopting second-chance hiring policies or ensuring that questions about criminal convictions do not appear on their employment applications. The ultimate goal: to increase employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated job seekers in the philanthropic sector.

Foundations take action as employers to ban the box 

The Alliance, through its Ban the Box Philanthropy Challenge, invites other foundations to join them. Although foundations have funded “ban the box” efforts across the country, now for the first time they are being encouraged to take action as employers to help rectify the problems that formerly incarcerated job seekers face.

“It is time to end the pervasive discrimination against people with past criminal records. The era of mass incarceration and the war on drugs have done severe damage to families and communities, with an enormously disproportionate impact on people of color,” says Tim Silard, president of the Rosenberg Foundation “All employers can be leaders in ensuring that a prior conviction does not mean a lifetime of unemployment. Everyone deserves a second chance and the opportunity to compete for a job.”

This call to action follows positive developments in the private sector led by companies like Target, Starbucks and Facebook.

More than one-third of American adults have criminal records

The need to ban the box is urgent. More than 70 million – nearly one in three – American adults have arrest or conviction records that might appear in background checks, limiting their possibilities for employment.

In addition to issuing the challenge, the Alliance has commissioned the National Employment Law Project to develop a Model Fair Chance Hiring Policy and Toolkit for employers in the philanthropic sector.

Among actions foundations are being encouraged to take are:

  • To remove “the box” from employment applications.
  • Leave background checks till the end of the hiring process.
  • Integrate the U.S. EEOC’s (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines into hiring considerations.
  • Adopt strong standards of transparency and accuracy.

The actions of the philanthropic sector set an example for others to follow. It will be interesting to see how many others do.