We began working with Bojangles’ Restaurants in the spring of 2019 to implement its Second Chance program to recruit and hiring people with past convictions. This included adapting its processes and protocols to maximize opportunities, partnering with community organizations and reentry programs to help develop a pipeline of candidates, and building wraparound supports for employees with past convictions.
The Charlotte, NC pilot started in 8 stores and expanded to 15 locations after a successful first 60 days. Over the first nine months of the pilot, Bojangles hired 75 people and made updates to its hiring policies that have significantly expanded its pool of high quality candidates.
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.
made in collaboration with Center for Community Transitions during the pilot period
during the pilot period for participants hired through the Second Chance program
across Bojangles' footprint through policies centered on inclusion and access
Early in the engagement we shared best practice policies from the retail and food & beverage industries across recruitment, application/interviewing, criminal background checks, review processes, and onboarding. This has included conversations and case studies from corporate leaders in second chance hiring. In addition, we have shared research demonstrating that people with past convictions have a higher likelihood of retention and advancement and no more likelihood of workplace incidents than their peers. The result has been a hiring process centered on inclusiveness and opportunity, offering applicants a fair chance to interview and be considered based on their qualifications. Only after making a conditional offer of employment will Bojangles run background checks and if convictions come up, they offer candidates a chance to share context and details and they make determinations on a case-by-case basis.
In September of 2019, we launched a proactive reentry hiring pilot in Charlotte as a partnership between Bojangles’ and the Center for Community Transitions’ (CCT) LifeWorks program. We initially identified eight stores in Charlotte to participate in the pilot, based on data from CCT about the zip codes where most of their formerly incarcerated participants live. In July, we brought together leadership from the eight stores for an information session and to offer the choice to participate. 100% of store managers volunteered to participate, citing both a desire to access new talent pools and personal excitement about the company’s commitment to second chances.
Center for Community Transitions’ LifeWorks program is a voluntary two-week employment readiness program rooted in an evidence-based curriculum called “Working Smart.” All participants are recently released from incarceration and actively seeking employment. CCT runs a cohort of 15-20 people every two weeks and Bojangles works directly with CCT to pre-identify qualified candidates at the beginning of each cohort, and facilitate hiring at the most appropriate stores at the conclusion of the program. During the pilot, the retention rate for these candidates was 75% higher than the company’s baseline.
A significant part of our partnership with Bojangles’ has been working directly with the staff on building expectations, culture, and collective buy-in for the pilot and organizational changes. We have since brought together the unit and area directors from the pilot stores, along with HR and executive staff for trainings and working sessions. The trainings dug deep into practical questions and considerations about how to communicate the program, issues with probation and parole, and electronic monitoring. The sessions included both Q&A and peer learning and support - and helped solidify this group of managers as a cohort to support each other as challenges arise.
In addition to our direct work with Bojangles’, our team meets regularly with the NC Department of Public Safety (DPS) to plan for deeper partnership and create conditions that maximize success for program participants.
In the near-term, we are working with community corrections (probation and parole) to create success-oriented reporting conditions for people in the pilot. This means scheduling parole appointments to align with work schedules, minimizing or eliminating officer visits to the job site, minimizing the use of electronic monitors. DPS has assigned a single parole officer to everyone in the program. This means Bojangles and CCT will have a single point of contact to maintain close communications about anything that arises that could pose a challenge to the employee’s success.