Hiring a Diverse Workforce and Providing a Fair Chance to Workers
by Josh Ensign, Chief Operating Officer –
Today Proterra signed the Los Angeles County Fair Chance Pledge to signify our ongoing commitment to incorporate Fair Chance hiring practices into our recruitment process and promote the full participation of justice-involved individuals in our economy. The first-of-its-kind Fair Chance Pledge is sponsored by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and signed by businesses throughout Los Angeles.
Signing this pledge is important to breaking the cycle of recidivism in our community. Federal and local statistics suggest that one in three American adults has a criminal record, and up to 75 percent of individuals released from prison or jail are unemployed after a year. This is particularly true in LA County which has the largest jail population in the nation. In an effort to reverse these statistics, the state passed the Fair Chance Act in early 2018, a law that prohibits employers from asking a candidate’s criminal background/conviction history before making a conditional offer of employment.
Manufacturing provides some of the best jobs in America, and Proterra is proud to manufacture its industry-leading electric buses in Los Angeles County as well as in Greenville, SC. In order to be successful, we must invest in our workforce. This means providing equitable employment opportunities to workers who have traditionally faced barriers to employment, including previously incarcerated individuals. We believe it is our responsibility to expand our recruitment strategies to attract, hire, train and retain employees from all backgrounds. Promoting Fair Chance hiring practices is a critical step in this process.
Stable employment is one of the most important factors in breaking the cycle of recidivism. Proterra is proud to sign the Fair Chance pledge and make a difference in the lives of the reentry population with meaningful job opportunities.
Hiring justice-involved individuals is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense. Research has found that reentry workers stay longer, get promoted faster and work harder. This aligns with our own experience as well. Our reentry workforce is motivated to be successful and motivated to be judged by their work – not their background.
Proterra currently partners with Defy Ventures to help identify justice-involved individuals looking for gainful employment. Defy Ventures aims to end mass incarceration and cycles of recidivism by using entrepreneurship as a tool to transform legacies and human potential. We are excited to announce that we’ve hired the first of many applicants from Defy’s program and look forward to providing a second chance to more applicants.
I personally volunteer with Defy Ventures myself and am a mentor to their entrepreneurs-in-training. I am continuously impressed with the determination and dedication from individuals in the justice system to overcome barriers, improve their lives and make a positive impact in their community.
In addition to recruiting justice-involved individuals, Proterra is dedicated to identifying talent from other underrepresented groups that may face barriers to gainful employment in the manufacturing sector. Proterra has formed partnerships with several organizations that help us recruit talent from diverse backgrounds to fill positions across the company in engineering, direct manufacturing, technicians, product management, quality specialists and more. In addition to Defy Ventures, some of our current partners include:
- Daughters of Rosie helps women get hands-on manufacturing jobs. Proterra has hired several women for manufacturing positions in our Los Angeles facility and Burlingame battery manufacturing facility and will continue to build a more diverse workforce.
- Los Angeles County Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) connects communities and improves the lives of all generations in Los Angeles County through partnership-driven services and initiatives. One of these initiatives includes connecting individuals to careers and employers to a skilled workforce. Proterra is proud to partner with WDACS to hire individuals for roles in its Los Angeles manufacturing facility.
- Hire A Hero aims to help transitioning military members, and spouses, find quality careers when coming home from active duty. Proterra’s CEO Ryan Popple and I are both veterans, and we currently employ veterans at many levels throughout the company. Proterra is committed to continuing to hire veterans, and Hire A Hero helps us identify candidates that match our open positions.
We are committed to building a diverse workforce across our three facilities in Greenville, SC; City of Industry, California; and Burlingame, California. If you are interested in working at Proterra, please check out our careers page for a full list of opportunities: https://www.proterra.com/company/careers/