Case Studies

Bojangles
RUE GUILT GROUPE
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RUE GUILT GROUPE

Over the past decade, AmFam has acquired and merged with several companies, and maintained a strong focus on integrating and strong corporate culture and ethos across its 10,000 employees. This includes a deep commitment to social justice and equity.

I. Introduction

Founded nearly a century ago, American Family Insurance (AmFam) is a Fortune 500 private mutual company based in Madison, Wi, with multiple subsidiaries and offices around the country. American Family is led by Jack Salzwedel, who began with AmFam in 1983 and became Chairman and CEO in 2011. Over the past decade, AmFam has acquired and merged with several companies, and maintained a strong focus on integrating and strong corporate culture and ethos across its 10,000 employees. This includes a deep commitment to social justice and equity. Among these commitments has been a company-wide minimum wage of $20/hour, a nationally recognized InclusiveExcellence initiative, and, in 2018, the launch of the American Family Institute for Corporate and Social Impact. The Institute leads grant making, impact investments, community convenings, and more, providing leadership to AmFam’s internal and external commitments to social justice.

We began working with Bojangles’ Restaurants in the  spring of 2019 to implement a new model for recruiting and hiring people with past convictions. This included adapting its application process, hiring matrix and review protocols to reduce exclusions and partnering with community organizations and reentry programs to help develop a pipeline of candidates and build wraparound support for employees with past convictions.

75

New Hires

Over the first six months of the pilot, AmFam hired 75 new employees. 13 were promoted to management positions.

75%↓

Reduction in Turnover

among second chance candidates.

60↓%

Reduction in Disqualifications

Disqualifications based on past convictions across AmFams' 300+ corporate-owned branches.

In [YEAR], AmFam made its first organizational steps toward Fair Chance hiring, making substantive changes to its application, background check process, and decision-making about conviction history. These updates positioned AmFam as a leading Fair Chance employer, and also set in motion commitments to continuous improvement to update and modernize FairChance practices in subsequent years. In2020, AmFam partnered with Levelset to build upon a company-wide commitment to Fair Chance hiring, working to ensure that its HR, talent acquisition, legal, and management practices were positioned to ensure career opportunities for qualified candidates with past convictions.  AmFam’s goal was not simply to eliminate barriers for candidates with past justice involvement, but to proactively develop candidate pipelines in partnership with local and national reentry organizations and leverage its experience to encourage peer companies and policy makers to minimize barriers to the workforce.

Institute for Corporate and Social Impact

The American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact (AmFam Institute) is a venture capital firm and partner of choice for exceptional entrepreneurs who are building scalable and sustainable businesses in a long-term effort to close equity gaps inAmerica. We also believe in capacity building and supporting organizations who are working tirelessly towards creating resilient communities, healthy youth development, economic opportunity for all, and learning and academic achievement.  Headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin with portfolio companies and partners nationwide, the AmFamInstitute was established as one of the first public benefit corporations inWisconsin – and one of the first among the Fortune 500 group of companies nationwide

" At American Family, we want the best talent, the best benefits and the best company culture. We also want strong communities that equitably serve everyone. All these things are rooted in our strategy "

- Jack Salzwedel, CEO
II. Approach to Fair Chance Hiring

American Family’s evolution positioned the company with inclusive and compliant Fair Chance practices across their HR processes. During the 2020 review, AmFam updated these practices further to ensure broad access and awareness.  The primary areas included: 

Application
  • AmFam removed the disclosure box from its application in [YEAR], meaning applicants with past felony and misdemeanor convictions were not dissuaded from applying, nor were they at risk of prejudice in the screening process before having a chance to be fully considered. 
  • In 2020, AmFam went further including the language: [INSERT] on its application to demonstrate its commitment to FairChance hiring and encourage a broad and diverse pool of applicants
Approach to Convictions
  • AmFam moved its criminal history check from [WHERE IN PROCESS] to the final step in the review process, after candidates had received a conditional offer. 
  • AmFam has a clear process for candidates to provide feedback and follow up on their criminal history checks, including identifying potential inaccuracies and discussing the circumstances of the convictions and subsequent efforts to successfully reengage in the community and the workforce. 
Criminal History Check
  • For candidates with past convictions, AmFam considers the conviction only in relation to its specific relevance to the job
  • AmFam has no blanket restrictions on convictions types or categories
  • AmFam’s legal and Human Resource teams work together to ensure multiple parties review criminal histories and make objective and consistent determinations about the impact of the conviction on job qualification - ensuring compliance with equal opportunities laws and guidance 
III. Movement to Proactive Hiring
“Our Fair Chance practices extend far beyond our corporate policies – they are part of a comprehensive talent strategy that includes community partnerships, public awareness campaigns, and retention and advancement strategies that ensure everyone has a chance to grow into leadership roles”
- Monique Williams, AmFam Institute

With accessible, high-quality jobs and career pathways in place, AmFam has expanded its Fair Chance practice to proactively recruit top talent with past convictions. With 70 million people experiencing past justice involvement, and the unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated people five times the national average, AmFam sees a market gap and an opportunity to recruit high-performing, motivated employees that other companies may look past.  AmFam has long had a commitment to recruiting non-traditional candidates. It began participating in the HIRE initiative in [YEAR] in partnership with the United Way to recruit and train candidates from populations including [ADD HERE], and has collaborated with YWCA and other community partners to make positions available and accessible to participants experiencing [ADD HERE] In June of 2020, AmFam became one of the first companies in the country to hire a dedicated staff person to lead its internal FairChance Initiatives. Monique Williams, Senior Program Manager, has led AmFam’s partnerships with organizations including Levelset, Indeed, Goodwill, Next Chapter, and others to ensure AmFam is successfully positioning itself to recruit and support employees with past convictions.  

AmFam’s proactive hiring model includes three primary approaches:

Application
  • CommunityPartnership:  Build national relationships with workforce and reentry organizations supporting candidates to successfully reconnect with employment
  • Brand Awareness: Communicate AmFam’s commitment to Fair Chance hiring through multiple channels to ensure candidates with past convictions applying at all levels of the company are aware of AmFam’s policies and are encouraged to apply 
  • Research and Continuous Learning: Quantitatively and qualitatively assess the employment experience and outcomes of candidates with past convictions to ensure AmFam is providing the right tools and resources to encourage retention and advancement 

AmFam’s proactive approach is designed to reach candidates with a broad range of skills, qualifications, and interests.The company sees its Fair Chance practices as a competitive advantage to reach a broader talent pool, and public awareness of its approach will be an asset to recruitment. 

IV. Guidance for the Field

Large Companies need every department rowing in the same direction to implement FairChance practices. It’s not just an HR function, legal, communications, public relations, executive leadership – everyone needs to be at the table.”

- Jeffrey Close, Talent Acquisition Manager

AmericanFamily has spent nearly a decade purposefully designing and improving its FairChance practices. In doing so, the company has compiled a set of learning to serve as guidance for peer employers and policymakers who share its goal of maximizing talent and providing equitable opportunities.  

Create a Cross-Disciplinary Team:
To successfully implement Fair Chance practices at a large company, employers must gain the support and active participation of leaders from across the organization.  AmFam’s Fair Chance collaboration begins with its executive team, and includes Human Resources, Talent Acquisition, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Legal & Compliance, Social Impact, Communications, and Operations leaders. A successful partnership requires internal coordination, expert facilitation, and a collective commitment of time and effort to minimize the barriers and bottlenecks that so often obstruct qualified candidates from consideration, retention, and growth. 

Advocate to Reduce Policy Barriers:
AmFam works in a regulated industry that has state-by-state licensure restrictions, preventing candidates with past convictions from attaining certain positions due to their convictions. These restrictions often have the intended effect of making whole industries seem inaccessible to people with previous convictions. Within companies, they also add layers of difficulty managing compliance and supporting employees to navigate career trajectories that include regulated positions. Through their policy, government relations and social impact teams, employers can be an influential voice in discouraging licensure restrictions and advocating for criminal justice policies that enable successful employment. 

” Our Company is uniquely positioned to lead by example and help remove internal and external barriers to Fair Chance employment in our industry and the communities where we work.”

-Nyra Jordan, Social Impact Investment Director, AmFam Institute

Internal Communications & Common Language: AmFam is an enterprise consisting of multiple brands and teams, and must consistently consider how its policies and practices permeate through the organization.  As new staff and teams are on boarded, AmFam has been working on ways to codify language, practice, and an ethos of inclusivity.  In late 2020, AmFam partnered with Levelset to develop a reentry hiring guide, outlining AmFam’s specific policies and perspectives on Fair Chance hiring.  The guide will serve as a resource to relevant staff and leadership throughout the enterprise and support a consistent culture as the company continues to grow.  

V. Conclusion

AmFam’s Fair Chance hiring journey has evolved from learning to leadership, and the company is positioned to set an example for peers and industry leaders to challenge their current assumptions and practices and recruit top talent, despite their past conviction history. Learn more about AmFam’s Commitments to Social Impact at:amfaminstitute.com