You Already Have Subscriptions for Movies and Diapers. Why Not the Couch?

In the six years since Jay Reno started college and finished his masters’ degree, he had moved seven times. Each time, he says, the load felt more punishing. The bed frame seemed to get heavier, and things got damaged. Reno, who grew up in New Hampshire and now lives in New York City, knew there had to be a less headache-inducing way to get stuff from A to B. Or better yet, he thought: What if he didn’t even own stuff in the first place?

Reno figured he surely wasn’t the only Millennial thinking along those lines. So, in 2017, he founded Feather, a New York City-based furniture rental subscription service. Furniture rentals is not a new idea: The 800-pound gorilla in the industry is Rent-a-Center, founded in 1986 with a rent-to-own model that last year was expected to bring in around $1.8 billion in U.S. revenue. Reno says unlike Rent-a-Center, Feather is targeting higher-end customers: people who can afford to buy but just choose not to. Convincing a critical mass of affluent customers to forgo new furnishings in favor of renting used items will be no easy task. Still, Reno has a pitch he’s confident will be persuasive.

“Buying things upfront doesn’t make sense when your space is constantly changing,” says the 31-year-old founder, who graduated from Columbia University in 2012 with a master’s degree in environmental studies. “Owning things ties you to a physical place. It grounds you in a way that you don’t want to be grounded.”

The price of flexibility.

To be sure, swapping the burden of ownership for the flexibility of renting comes at a cost. Feather members pay a monthly $19 subscription fee plus the cost to rent each individual item. For instance, a living room package that includes a sofa, lounge chair, coffee table, and floor lamp will set you back $90 to $167 a month. Members can swap out items for free once a year, depending on their changing needs or tastes. Subsequent swaps will trigger a $99 delivery fee. Non-members can also rent from Feather, though they pay a $99 delivery fee each time and higher per-item fees. A Deco Weave West Elm “Eddy” sofa that runs $39 a month for members costs $134 a month for non-members.

A key part of Feather’s pitch to customers is positioning furniture rental as a more environmentally friendly alternative to buying furniture you may one day discard. Reno suggests the same consumers that, say, buy sustainably manufactured clothing at Everlane, or cleaning products in reusable packaging from Grove Collaborative, will appreciate Feather’s sustainability angle. The company says it cleans and refurbishes all items, save for mattresses, which don’t get reused between renters, to extend their lifespan. Mattresses and furniture that are no longer usable get donated.

Should customers want to buy an item after renting, Feather says it can be purchased for the retail value, minus whatever they already have paid in rental fees. At some rent-to-own companies, like Rent-a-Center, items cost more than they would if customers had purchased them directly from a retailer. Rent-a-Center doesn’t argue with this point. “Yes, there is a premium paid for the flexibility for the service, which includes free set up, delivery, and repairs,” says Michael Landry, vice president of franchise development at Rent-a-Center. Feather charges repair fees, which vary depending on the item, if damages go beyond regular wear and tear.

Millennials are increasingly opting for renting versus buying homes, says Michael Brown, a partner in the retail practice of global strategy and management consulting at A.T. Kearney. Going into the third quarter of last year, only about a third of Americans 35 and younger owned homes, according to a February 2019 report by financial services firm Legal & General. “Renting a home; leasing a car; taking an Uber; renting the runway are all manifestations of this trend,” adds Brown. He notes further that rented furnishings are expected to account for 25 percent of the total U.S. furniture market this year. Overall, U.S. furniture-industry sales in 2019 were expected to increase by 2.8 percent to $114.5 billion from the year before, says Jerry Epperson, managing director at research firm Mann, Armistead, and Epperson.

Investors too are on board with rentals. On February 18, Feather announced a $30 million series B round of funding led by Cobalt Capital, with participation from prior investors including Spark Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Bain Capital Ventures, and others. It had previously raised $16 million from investors. The company says it is using the new funds to expand to additional markets and build its 60-person team.

Feather isn’t the only startup aiming to reimagine the furniture rental industry. Los Angeles-based competitor Fernish also launched in 2017. Last year Fernish raised $30 million from early-stage investor fund Real Estate Technology Ventures, Intuit’s co-founder Scott Cook, and Amazon’s head of global e-commerce and retail operations, Jeff Wilke.

It’s early days for Feather. Its service currently is available only in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Orange County, California. Reno declined to comment on its number of members or annual revenue, beyond saying the latter is in the “eight digits.”

The true test for Feather–and by extension, Fernish–is whether it can make the product more widely appealing, beyond early-adopter Millennials. Kevin Thau, a general partner at Feather investor Spark Capital, is convinced it can. “Today’s consumers demand fast and reliable products and services that make their lives easier,” he says. “Feather delivers on just this by allowing consumers to easily rent furniture and skip the enormous hassle of purchasing and inevitably moving their furniture from one place to the next.”

Reno says even legacy retailers are starting to respond to the idea that ownership is less popular among certain customers. Feather offers Williams-Sonoma brand West Elm and Joy Bird furniture in its inventory, along with mattress firm Leesa. Crate and Barrel partnered with Fernish to offer its collections to renters in 2018. And in a related sign of the times, in November 2019, Nordstrom announced it would include exclusive products available for both purchase and rental through Rent the Runway. 

“We’re already starting to see consumers shift away from ownership as a default,” Reno adds. “And we believe this behavior is only going to grow.”

By Tatyana Bellamy-WalkerEditorial intern, Inc.com

Source: You Already Have Subscriptions for Movies and Diapers. Why Not the Couch?

Jay Reno is the CEO and founder of Feather. Feather is a furniture subscription service. They were in the Summer 2017 batch of YC. https://twitter.com/jayjreno You can check out their furniture at LiveFeather.com and if you live in LA, SF, or New York you can try out the service. https://www.livefeather.com/ The YC podcast is hosted by Craig Cannon. https://www.livefeather.com/ Y Combinator invests a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200), twice a year. Learn more about YC and apply for funding here: https://www.ycombinator.com/apply/

Macy’s Closing 125 Stores as It Reorganizes for Digital Shopping

A Macy’s department store stands at the corner of Race and Fifth Streets in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. The U.S. economy will expand 3 percent in the third quarter, according to the latest results of a Bloomberg News survey of 76 economists. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Macy’s plans to close 125 of its least productive department stores — almost a quarter of the total — over the next three years and cut about 2,000 jobs as part of a large restructuring.

The stores, including 30 that are already in the process of being closed, account for about $1.4 billion in annual sales, the company said in a statement. Across the rest of the locations, the company is adjusting its staff — reducing in some locations and increasing it in better-performing stores. The shares climbed as much as 3.5% in late trading.

Analysts have said Macy’s is weighed down by too many stores in under performing malls. It currently has more than 600 Macy’s across 43 states. Last month, it reported encouraging sales numbers for the crucial holiday season, but said it would close more than two dozens stores as it adjusts to changes in the way consumers shop.

“We’ve been saying they need to close stores forever,” said Poonam Goyal, senior retail analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “This is a good enough number to show that they’re doing enough to solve the overstored problem in the U.S.”

Consumers have grown more comfortable shopping online and ditching the in-store experience. Department stores, in particular, have suffered and last year, they sized up as the worst sector in the S&P 500. Many have invested in pop-up shops and brand partnerships to entice shoppers back into stores. The loss of foot traffic in department stores has had a ripple effect in malls across the country, which depend on the “anchors” to draw people to the centers.

Macy’s will also consolidate its corporate headquarters in New York, where it already makes a big part of its business. Its massive flagship store in Herald Square has been situated there since 1902. It is closing its corporate offices in Cincinnati.

‘Deep Cuts’

In a note to employees sent Tuesday and described to Bloomberg News, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Gennette said it would be a “difficult week” for everyone at Macy’s as he outlined the path the retailer will take in coming years. He said that the structural changes were a necessity in order to return to profitable growth.

“We are making deep cuts in almost every area of the business,” he said in the note. “Every function was required to take a hard look at their organization and reset their cost base. This means the departure of many valued colleagues.”

The plan was developed over six months, Gennette said. Managers will begin sharing details with their workers this week.

Macy’s didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about the letter.

The company expects the restructuring to generate annual gross savings of about $1.5 billion, which will be fully realized by 2022, with savings this year of about $600 million.

Polaris Strategy

As part of the reorganization, which it dubbed its Polaris Strategy, the company also made a number of leadership changes. Marc Mastronardi, for one, was promoted to chief stores officer, according to a separate letter to employees seen by Bloomberg News.

Macy’s is also introducing a new small format store, and will open a 20,000 square-foot location in Dallas on Wednesday called Market by Macy’s. The store is an immersive shopping experience and multi-purpose event space, according to the letter.

Earlier Tuesday, Macy’s said it would close its San Francisco offices, which include its technology operations. The company said it would offer severance to eligible staff at the offices while some other employees will be able to transfer.

Retailers have been closing stores by the thousands as bankrupt chains liquidate and survivors shrink their footprints, having accumulated too much selling space as shoppers went online. More than 9,000 stores closed in 2019, according to data from Coresight Research.

It’s not the beginning and its not going to be the end,” said Simeon Siegel, a retail analyst at BMO Capital Markets. But store closures alone aren’t enough. “At the heart of it you have to look at what you value proposition is that’s driving customers to stores. In what way does it get better by getting smaller?”

By Jordyn Holman and Kim Bhasin / Bloomberg

Source: Macy’s Closing 125 Stores as It Reorganizes for Digital Shopping

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Macy’s announced that it will close 125 of its department stores over the next 3 years. CNBC’s Courtney Reagan reports.

It Took Canva a Year to Make Its First Technical Hire. Now It’s a Hiring Machine

Plenty of entrepreneurs adhere to the mantra of “hire slow, fire fast” and for good reason. Then there’s Melanie Perkins, the co-founder and CEO of Sydney-based design software company Canva. She spent a year trying to find her first technical hire.

While Perkins didn’t intend to spend so much time filling her first engineering position, looking back on it now, she wouldn’t have done it any other way. The year-long quest informed how she’s made every other hire since. And it’s hard to argue with the results: With 700 employees, Canva is a hiring machine, and it’s been doubling in size every year.

In an industry that sees engineers switch jobs with frightening speed, many of Canva’s early technical hires are still with the company. While Canva won’t discuss revenue, Perkins, the company’s co-founder and CEO, says the company has been profitable since 2017. Canva has 20 million monthly users in 190 countries. In October, Canva announced an $85 million investment, with a valuation of $3.2 billion.

This is going to be bigger than yearbooks

When Perkins started the predecessor company to Canva in 2007, she was just 19. She was frustrated by how hard it was to use design software. When she started teaching design at university, she noticed that her students were similarly frustrated. With her boyfriend (now fiance), Cliff Obrecht, she built a website called Fusion Books that helped students design and publish yearbooks.

It did well–becoming the largest yearbook company in Australia and moving into France and New Zealand. Perkins quit university to work on it full-time. By 2011, Perkins and Obrecht realized Fusion Books could be much more: an engine to make it easy for anyone to design any publication. But to build that more ambitious product, they’d need outside investment.

Perkins headed to San Francisco to visit angel investor Bill Tai, who is known for making about 100 investments in startups that have yielded 19 initial public offerings. She’d met him in Perth a year earlier, where she had collected an award for innovation. “If you come to California, come see me,” he remembers telling her. “Without me knowing exactly what she was doing, she engineered a trip. She’s a very ballsy woman, if that makes sense. And I’m thinking, you know, I should help her. I know hundreds of engineers.”

Early in her San Francisco visit, Tai introduced her to Lars Rasmussen, the co-founder of the company that became Google Maps. Tai told her that if she could hire a tech team that met Rasmussen’s standards, he’d invest. “I didn’t realize at the time what that meant,” says Perkins. She bought an Ikea mattress, and planted it on the floor of her brother’s San Francisco apartment. “Obviously, that was free rent,” she says. “I had food to get by and I felt safe.”

Perkins set out initially to hire by doing the obvious: She went to every single conference she could get into. She’d speak if the organizers let her. Tai invited her to his MaiTai Global networking event in Hawaii, even though, for most attendees, a big draw was kitesurfing, which she’d never attempted. “It was great fun,” she says gamely. Then, “I really don’t like it. I have the scars to prove it. I’ve … retired from kitesurfing.”

Back in San Francisco, Perkins passed out flyers, trying to pique people’s interest. She cold-called engineers, and approached suspects on buses. She scoured LinkedIn, but Rasmussen wouldn’t even deign to meet most of her finds. “He didn’t think they had enough startup gumption or experience with a world-scale company, or with complex technology,” she said. She says fewer than five LinkedIn finds ended up interviewing with Rasmussen. He’d give them a problem-solving challenge that, inevitably, they flubbed.

After a year of this, Perkins was thoroughly frustrated. Surely it’s better to at least make some progress, she told Rasmussen, than to continue to do nothing. But he was adamant.

The perfect candidate and the bizarre pitch deck

That same year, Rasmussen introduced her to two candidates that he thought might be a good fit and recruitable. The first, Cameron Adams, a user interface designer who had worked at Google, was busy trying to raise money for his own startup. The second, Dave Hearnden, a senior engineer at Google, initially said he wasn’t interested. In 2012, both had a change of heart.

“We were absolutely over the moon,” says Perkins. Adams came on board first, as a co-founder. Hearnden, on the other hand, started to have second thoughts: Google wasn’t happy with his leaving, obviously, and was trying to get him to stay. He worried that his project would be abandoned without him, and he didn’t want to disappoint his team.

At this point, Perkins sent him something that has since become known as the Bizarre Pitch Deck. In 16 slides, the deck tells the story of a man named Dave, who longed for adventure but was torn by his loyalty for Google. In the pitch deck, as in life, Dave eventually joined Canva. It helped that Google had already poached his replacement.

In 2012, Perkins was able to raise a seed round of $1.6 million, and got another $1.4 million from the Australian government. Tai finally agreed to put in $100,000. “It was really hard for her to raise,” he says. “You’ve got a young girl in her 20s from Australia who had never worked at a company, with her live-in boyfriend as COO. People would say to me, What if they break up? I didn’t have a good answer.” Now, things look much different: Tai says Obrecht is Canva’s “secret weapon,” and that “Cliff has just blown me away.”

Keeping the bar high, hundreds of hires later

While Tai drove her nuts at the beginning, Perkins appreciates his stubbornness now. “We’ve been able to attract top talent across the globe,” she says. “It wouldn’t have been possible without setting such a high technical bar early on.” Tai says he hasn’t made exactly this condition with other startups. But he’s done it in reverse: He’s backed highly technical people without knowing what, exactly, the business opportunity would turn out to be.

The experience also showed her, the hard way, just how much effort she’d have to put into hiring if she wanted to build a successful tech company. By Canva’s second year, the company had a recruiting team. “We knew we needed to invest heavily in hiring,” she says. Now, each open position gets a strategy brief. That document lays out the goals for the person in that role and the project they will be working on. It also identifies the people who will be involved in the hiring process. “Getting everyone on the same page is really critical,” says Perkins. “It sets that person up for success.”

And like Rasmussen looking for the first technical hire, Canva asks each candidate to take a challenge. Candidates have a choice of doing a four-hour challenge or a one-hour challenge. “Maybe they’re working parents and they can do it in an hour,” says Perkins. “Other people prefer to have a longer time and work at their own pace. We’re looking for people happy to take on challenges and who get a real buzz out of being able to solve hard things.”

In in-person interviews, someone on the Canva team will almost always ask the candidate, “How would your previous boss or manager talk about your work or rate you?” Perkins says people are “surprisingly honest” in their responses. The answers help her get a window into what type of leadership allows a particular candidate to thrive. Some people require a lot of structure or hierarchy, she says, and Canva doesn’t have much of either.

“One of the things I believe quite strongly is having a really strong idea of where you’re going,” says Perkins. “I have this visual metaphor. Plant 100 seeds. Until eventually one flowers or sprouts. For most people, if you’re rejected, you feel really hurt and don’t want to continue. The reality is that you have to push through. If I had given up quickly, I certainly wouldn’t be here today.”

By Kimberly WeisulEditor-at-large, Inc.com

Source: It Took Canva a Year to Make Its First Technical Hire. Now It’s a Hiring Machine

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A behind the scenes look at the amazing team behind Canva, hope you enjoy watching the video as much as we enjoyed making it!

Strengthen This One Thing Before You Quit Your Job Or Change Careers

As my career coaching work has evolved over the years, I’ve trained my focus on helping mid- to high-level professionals who are at a decisive crossroads in their jobs or careers, and are committed to making the best next move. Most often, these men and women know something critical has to change in their work, but they’re confused as to exactly what needs modification. There’s so much going wrong that it’s hard for them to identify one thing to address first.

I’ve seen continually that when we’re deeply unhappy in our work, and experiencing pain, mistreatment, disillusionment and regret about the focus of our careers and the people we’re working with, we often want to run away as far as we can from the pain, to the opposite end of the working world.

Today In: Leadership

For example, an HR executive who’s fed up with their toxic leadership desperately wants to chuck it all and start an online lifestyle business. Or a Finance VP wants to stop obsessing about the bottom line and turn to working in the non-profit arena to feel he’s making a meaningful difference in the world, and so on.

While these might be the best moves for these individuals, thousands of times it’s not. Instead, unhappy professionals are engaging in what I call the “Pendulum Effect”–knee-jerking from the pain and trying to escape their chronic career problems. That often leads them to chuck everything they’ve built and start over completely.

I’ve seen (in my own life and hundreds of others) that running away to an entirely new career often doesn’t address or fix the real problem–and that is who you are when you are working. This includes your boundaries, your ego, your way of communicating, how you handle stress, your decision-making process, how you relate to others, how you deal with critique and challenge and so much more.

Those elements of your approach to living and working don’t change just because you’ve quit your job or career. They’ll show up again in the new field or job, unless you do the inner and outer work to become someone who is more confident, self-respecting, powerful and impactful and able to stand up calmly and resolutely for yourself.

Before you make any changes in your job or your career, it’s critical to address this one thing before you make any moves: the way you are operating in the world.

When you do the work to strengthen and grow personally, you elevate yourself and ensure that your career will become more satisfying and aligned with your values. The degree to which you are able to grow and expand yourself to operate at the highest level is what will ensure that you can experience more reward and success in your jobs and professional endeavors.

This strengthening process involves closing the seven damaging power gaps that keep professionals from thriving. And elevating yourself to the highest level involves honing what I’ve seen are the nine essential skills for success and happiness in your career. They all involve strengthening who you are and how you show up in the world.

You simply cannot have a happy, rewarding and successful career if you are seriously lacking in these skills:

  1. Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence
  2. Communication Skill
  3. Building Strong Relationships
  4. Decision Making
  5. Leadership
  6. Advocating and Negotiating
  7. Work-Life Balance
  8. Boundary Enforcement
  9. Career Planning and Management

(Here’s more about three of those.)

How can we tell if we’re deficient in these skills and need more development to thrive? Below are some prime indicators that these skills need improvement now:

If you review this list and feel a bit overwhelmed because you feel many of these skills need development, that’s ok, and there’s good news. It means you have the self-awareness to understand that in order to be happier and more successful, some growth is required.

Choose one or two skills from the list above that you feel need the most development, and take proactive measures this month to build these skills. You can do this in many ways, whether it’s taking a leadership training course, working with a coach on your communication style, seeking help from a therapist to address your emotional pain from the past, prioritizing your life outside of work more highly, or deciding how and when you want to negotiate your next raise or promotion. Don’t wait. Take concrete steps now to change how you see yourself and how you interact with the world.

This one small step on the path to your growth and expansion can change everything for you.

To build a happier, more rewarding career, take Kathy Caprino’s Amazing Career Project training course and her new webinar The Most Powerful You: Close Your Power Gaps and Rock Your Career.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I’m a career and  executive coach, writer, speaker, and trainer dedicated to the advancement of women. My career coaching firm—Kathy Caprino, LLC—offers a wide array of programs, training, assessments, videos, and courses that help women “dig deep, discover their right work, and illuminate the world with it.”

Along with contributing to Forbes.com, I write on Thrive Global, LinkedIn, and my own blog at kathycaprino.com/blog and am a frequent media source on careers and women’s issues. My book Breakdown, Breakthrough and my TEDx talk “Time To Brave Up” share critical ways to stand up and speak up for yourself and transform your life.

My new book, The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths To Career Bliss, is due Summer 2020 from HarperCollins Leadership.

For more information, please visit kathycaprino.com, the Amazing Career Project course, and my Finding Brave podcast.

Source: Strengthen This One Thing Before You Quit Your Job Or Change Careers

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It’s said that job-related, or hard skills, may help you land the job. But these days, candidates who also possess strong people and relationship skills have a real edge in getting an offer. Soft Skills for Career Success provides valuable insight on how to get along and get ahead in your job. In this video, explore the top soft skills sought by hiring managers: communication skills, being a team player, a strong work ethic, flexibility, and positive attitude. You’ll also learn some smart tips for using your smart phone in the workplace. It’s part of the Job Genius series, presented by Express Employment Professionals, a staffing company with hundreds of locations and over 35 years of experience in finding great jobs for great people.

John Legend Wants To Improve Job Opportunities For People With Criminal Backgrounds

In Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Grammy-winning musician John Legend announced the second cohort of participants in Unlocked Futures, a 14-month accelerator program for social entrepreneurs who have been incarcerated and urged business leaders to be more inclusive of job applicants with criminal backgrounds.

Unlocked Futures launched in 2017 as a partnership between the philanthropic venture fund New Profit and Legend’s criminal justice reform initiative FreeAmerica, with financial support from Bank of America.

“We started this as a collaboration, saying, ‘Let’s not just tell folks to hire formerly incarcerated individuals, but to invest in their ideas,’” says Legend. “All of the members have business ideas that will help them feed their families, employ others and strengthen our communities.”

Today In: Leadership

In 2007, Teresa Hodge, a member of the inaugural Unlocked Futures class, began a 70-month prison sentence for a nonviolent white-collar crime at Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia⁠—the same prison where Martha Stewart famously served her time. After her experience with Unlocked Futures in 2017, Hodge, 56, became the cofounder of R3 Score, a background screening company.

The U.S. is home to 5 million formerly incarcerated people who face severe obstacles when trying to find a job after their release. Returning citizens are unemployed at a rate of more than 27%, nearly seven times higher than the unemployment rate for the general U.S. population.

Unable to secure employment, many formerly incarcerated people turn to entrepreneurship. But they often lack the business skills, social networks and capital needed to launch a successful company.

That’s where Unlocked Futures comes in. Participants receive coaching on leadership skills such as board governance, fundraising, communications and talent strategy. They also undergo an assessment that gauges areas for improvement and team up with mentors from a network of organizations, including Bank of America, which provided $500,000 grants for both cohorts, a total $1 million commitment.

“Six hundred thousand inmates are getting out every year, and if we want to lessen the risk of them recidivating, programs like this are important,” says Andrew Plepler, the environmental, social and governance executive for Bank of America.

Many formerly incarcerated people experience a revolving-prison-door scenario after their release: At least 95% of people incarcerated in state prisons are released into  their communities, yet more than half of them are arrested again within three years.

To be admitted into the Unlocked Futures program, applicants must have fully operational businesses. “We come in when you’ve established your proof point, you have your model built and you’re ready to figure out sustainability, growth, and measurement and expansion,” says Tulaine Montgomery, a managing partner at New Profit.

Participants are each awarded a $50,000 unrestricted grant. Hodge, whose first business venture upon release was Mission:Launch, a nonprofit that helps formerly incarcerated people reenter the workforce, says that many returning citizens are unable to gain access to growth capital because of their criminal history.

She put her $50,000 from Unlocked Futures toward performing user surveys and designing the algorithm for her background screening platform. In July, Hodge participated in the Techstars Impact Accelerator, which backs founders who are building technology aimed at solving social and environmental problems.

Through this program, she was able to raise another $500,000 from the Motley Fool, American Family Life Insurance and others. Now in the seed stage, her goal is to raise $2 million by the end of the first quarter of FY 2020.

“It’s certainly a challenge to be a black woman raising money, not to talk of being formerly incarcerated,” Hodge says. “But we know that we have a solid business model because there’s a strong upside for investors.”

Since January, more than 700 individuals and companies have signed the Society for Human Resource Management’s pledge to give qualified applicants with criminal backgrounds the same opportunities as those who haven’t served time. And just this week, JPMorgan Chase announced an expansion of its efforts to hire people who were formerly incarcerated, continuing the trend of  companies removing questions about criminal history on employment applications and offering opportunities to those with records.

“If we want the full human potential that is contained in our communities to be maximized, we need to include formerly incarcerated people in conversations around hiring and how we develop the workforce,” Legend says. “These folks are valuable and they’re worth reintegrating into our society.”

At the kickoff event for the second Unlocked Futures cohort, participants sat down with Legend and discussed their personal stories, business ideas and aspirations for the future. As business leaders begin to shift their attitude toward hiring and investing in returning citizens, that future may start to look a little rosier.

Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a reporter covering the various aspects of diversity and inclusion in business and society at large. Previously, I was a reporter at CNBC, where I focused on leadership and strategic management. I’ve also dabbled in video journalism, working as a breaking news digital producer for New York Daily News, followed by a yearlong stint as a producer at Rolling Stone. My work has been featured on New York Daily News, Yahoo Finance and Time Out. I’m a proud alumna of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, receiving honors for my investigative thesis on the alarming number of physicians dying by suicide. Tweet me @ruthumohnews or send tips to rumoh@forbes.com.

Source: John Legend Wants To Improve Job Opportunities For People With Criminal Backgrounds

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Applicants with criminal backgrounds, including those with nonviolent criminal convictions or even arrests, are increasingly being driven into poverty. Even if it has been years since they’ve served time for past criminal infractions, those applying for jobs are often unable to find work — especially in a climate of extreme job competition. NewsHour’s Stephen Fee reports.
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