System Reset: Event Recording and Recap

We're enabling tech to disrupt cycles of unemployment
October 22, 2021

“Am I going to have to pay for my past for the rest of my life? Am I going to have to wear these invisible handcuffs? Am I ever going to find a career or a job with a living wage?”

Shelley Winner, Restorative Justice Activist and Product Specialist at Microsoft

We created System Reset for people like Shelley, who returned from incarceration to find themselves wearing “invisible handcuffs,” stigmatized, and locked out of employment as they sought to rebuild their lives. On Thursday, October 21st, TechEquity Collaborative hosted System Reset: How Tech Can Recruit, Hire, & Retain People Returning from Incarceration to underscore the racist, systemic impacts of incarceration on employment, the role tech plays in interrupting these vicious cycles, and how companies can plan to recruit, hire, and retain people returning from incarceration.

Our keynote speaker, Mayor London Breed, stressed the importance of second chances for people returning from incarceration; they are a “matter of life and death.” She urged the tech industry to create a diverse and equitable workforce by hiring from untapped pools of talent from historically excluded communities. The future of work rests upon equity and economic mobility achieved by de-segregating employment opportunities.

Our panelists discussed how communities of color hit hardest by incarceration have been historically denied access to information, intellectual property, and wealth. Rising to the occasion extends beyond writing a check. Here are some reasons tech companies should build pipelines and onramps to living wage jobs and good benefits for people returning from incarceration: 

  • Graduates from boot camps and apprenticeships like Next Chapter or The Last Mile are assets to their companies; they are less likely to jump ship and land faster promotions than university hires. 
  • Workplace culture, product development, and business growth benefit from employees with rich lived experiences. 
  • Opening doors to people from underrepresented and nontraditional backgrounds is a clear and actionable way to break the intergenerational cycles of incarceration and poverty in communities of color. 

That’s why we’re thrilled to share the System Reset Guide, available to anyone who wants to start this program at their company. The guide includes:

  • A backdrop of incarceration and employment in the U.S.
  • The business case for hiring people returning from incarceration
  • A step-by-step plan to start a hiring program at your company 

The 600,000 people per year returning from incarceration in the U.S. should not be defined by their past. We’re building a campaign to get System Reset into every tech company in California and beyond. Participate in ending the cycle between incarceration and unemployment by taking the System Reset pledge. Connect with individuals and organizations that want tech to set the example for inclusive recruitment, hiring, and retention.