What we do at Televerde goes beyond traditional CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities like environmental stewardship, philanthropy, cause marketing, etc. We create shared value, which is a concept first introduced by Michael Porter in Harvard Business Review. In the simplest terms, it’s the practice of creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges. For Televerde, it’s something we’ve always done–even before there was a name for it. For more than 20 years, we’ve provided women in prison with jobs, training, education
The criminal justice system has changed considerably over the past 25 years. This is the result of more expansive law enforcement efforts, tougher drug sentencing laws and poor reentry programs that uniquely affect women
Female incarceration has a destabilizing effect on society. It’s a problem that needs to be solved for all of us, and doing so begins with solutions built on empathy, education
“Discarding people for the rest of their lives, based on a decision they made on the worst day of their life, is such a waste of human potential.” – James Hooker, Televerde CEO
I’ve personally seen what happens when opportunities are presented to women that challenge their minds and champion their spirits. They shine! This video, featuring Erin Ford is one of 1,000’s of examples I can show you.
Here’s my vision for Televerde CSR: working with key influencers, legislators and businesses to create a stronger, more expansive approach to putting second chances to work strategies. When done right, these will lead to the realization of human potential. And when we do this, lives will be transformed, families will be restored, cycles will break and start anew, and society will thrive.
Bringing Fair Chance Hiring into the Diversity Conversation
Managing diversity and inclusion in the global workplace is a priority for every company. And there are companies doing it really well, bringing more opportunities for women, people of color, the disabled, veterans, the LGBTQ community, etc. One group we don’t hear much about, though, is women and men with criminal backgrounds. A 2010 study estimates that there are 19 million people in the U.S. who have a felony record. We need to start seeing these individuals not as former convicts but as part of the broader talent pool. “Discarding people for the rest of their lives, based on a decision they made on the worst day of their life, is such a waste of human potential,” said Televerde CEO James Hooker.
The Ban the Box initiative is making strides with 33 states and 150 cities in America agreeing to remove the conviction history question from job applications and delaying background checks until later in the hiring process. But we have to move beyond the box.
We need to elevate the conversation and companies must bring women and men with criminal backgrounds into their diversity and inclusion strategies. This is how we ensure that a criminal record is no longer a lifelong barrier to economic growth and security. Perhaps most important, we need to stop stigmatizing former felons. Stigmas form unconscious biases, so even without “the box” on applications, our hiring decisions are being influenced once we find out. (There’s a terrific blog and TEDx talk by my colleague Dominique Goodmond, challenging all of us to remove the labels associated with incarceration. I highly recommend both.)
When we learn to view people through their lens instead of our own, judgement is replaced with empathy. And that’s when real problems are solved. I’m looking forward to advancing progress in this space and sharing Televerde’s CSR model and experience with corporations, governments and other entities that want to change the norm.
Partnering with Government
Our Televerde business model couldn’t work without the support of the Departments of Corrections (DOC) in Arizona and Indiana. Together, we show how business and government can work effectively to deliver better outcomes and solve some of the most pressing issues facing our world today.
Our way has never been to go at anything alone. It takes a village! Our plan is to replicate what we’ve accomplished in Arizona and Indiana and bring our proven methodology to other areas in the U.S. and abroad. As I mentioned, we’ve empowered almost 3,000 incarcerated women with opportunities to rebuild their lives. Over the next decade, we plan to grow that number to 10,000, working with government agencies, legislators, correctional systems, social enterprises and big business. And we’re keen to help disempowered populations beyond the walls of prison. This is the most aggressive and inspirational goal we’ve set, and we’ve got a brilliant team in place to deliver it.
In the past, we’ve been hesitant to highlight our Televerde CSR business model. Instead, we’ve chosen to focus exclusively on what we do: combine leading-edge technology with a human touch to help companies generate demand and accelerate sales. Well, now we are getting loud on the HOW. I think it’s time. Don’t you?
Learn more about our business model. Watch the talks from TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional , which look behind the curtain of incarceration to show the potential that exists in giving second chances. And, stay tuned, because my dream job, will likely intersect with my passion project: to ignite the next TEDx event.