Our guest on #WorkTrends this week is Michelle Cirocco, the Chief Responsibility Officer of the sales and marketing technology firm Televerde. She is responsible for extending Televerde’s business model to disempowered populations. We discussed criminal reform and its impact on the workforce, eliminating bias in the hiring process, and how organizations can connect with, and potentially hire, individuals with criminal records.  

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you never miss an episode. 

[2:33] We were founded 25 years ago based on the idea that by providing women in prison with jobs, training, and education while they were incarcerated 
[7:42] There’s 70 million people in our country that have a criminal record
[09:49] There is a big movement for organizations to take a pledge. It’s called the Getting Talent Back to Work pledge, and it’s a very simple, easy thing for anybody who is involved in talent acquisition to do. 

Today, we’re talking to Televerde’s Michelle Cirocco about how we can extend diversity and inclusion to everyone. Michelle Cirocco is the Chief Responsibility Officer of Televerde, a business-to-business marketing and sales outsourcing firm. This is Michelle’s story.

An Unusual Business Model 

To an outsider, Televerde sounds like a typical business-to-business demand generation firm. They provide sales and marketing support for small businesses to some of the largest technology firms in the world. What sets Televerde apart is its approach to staffing. Televerde’s leaders founded the organization the idea of giving incarcerated women with jobs, training, and education. At the end of their sentence, Televerde helps the women reacclimate by employing them at their organization or helping them find work through a job placement program. 

A Second Chance 

Twenty years ago, after she served six years in prison, Televerde hired Michelle. She was their fortieth employee. Televerde has worked with more than 3,000 incarcerated women over their twenty-five years in business. In their Phoenix, Arizona, corporate headquarters, forty percent of the employees started their career while incarcerated. Televerde offers these women a chance at a career without facing bias because of their past.  

The Conversation Around Diversity and Inclusion

According to Michelle, “We face what’s going to be one of the biggest talent gaps ever in the history of the world.” The number of available jobs outnumbers the workforce by more than one million people. So, organizations need to consider new options to fill the talent gaps.  

Untapped Resources 

Michelle says more than 70 million people in the United States have a criminal record. Criminal records indicates a conviction of some type of a misdemeanor or a felony. A criminal record might immediately remove a candidate from the recruitment process. If organizations want to fill empty jobs, they need to rethink the way they hire. As Baby Boomers retire, the talent pool shrinks and recruiters have fewer viable candidates. 

Give Qualified Candidates a Chance

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) created a toolkit of resources and research for HR professionals. SHRM launched the Getting Talent Back to Work Pledge. Organizations that take this promise say they will give all qualified candidates a chance at employment. 

The first step to eliminating bias, Michelle says, is to “ban the box.” The concept is simple. Recruiters do not ask potential employees if they have been convicted of a felony until later in the hiring process. That way, individuals can make it through the first round of recruitment without being immediately disqualified.  

I think you’ll be fascinated my Michelle’s take on diversity, inclusion, and this untapped workforce. 

Resources Mentioned in this #WorkTrends Episode

Michelle Cirocco on Linkedin and Twitter
SHRM’s Getting Talent Back to Work pledge

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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