What if we were all given an unlimited amount of grace despite our shortcomings? Adam Martin is the Founder of F5 Project, an organization that provides job and housing opportunities to felons leaving the prison system so they can have a sense of purpose and the confidence to re-enter their communities. Today, Jennifer and Adam dive deep into how the social stigma that surrounds felons effects their successful reentry into society and how we can do better in providing equal job opportunities to this untapped yet promising workforce.
- Adam Martin is dedicated to helping others overcome the things he has in his life: alcoholism, drug abuse, and a criminal background that includes 5 felonies. His work on the F5 Project has been a game-changer for many lives.
- Most felons are left with jobs that barely get their bills paid. They are given lower wages, higher expectations, and not enough room to succeed. With social stigmas holding back several socio-demographics, especially the vulnerable ones, Adam has one question: “What if we weren’t so quick to judge and brand people as unworthy?”
- If you want a story about reform, then Adam has one for us. After leaving the prison system, he had worked at a car wash, served and waited tables at restaurants – jobs that weren’t enough to support his family. Despite the setbacks, he knew that wasn’t what he wanted to do the rest of his life. Instead, he was going to find purpose and end the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.
- He eventually got a job at an information technology company as an outside sales representative. They hired Adam even after knowing about his past, but he didn’t have the same advantages as the other employees. He didn’t have a license, he didn’t have a car – the things that would enable him to do his job efficiently. But that didn’t stop him from bringing in the sales needed to get him noticed by the higher-ups. He took the bus, he rode his bike, and he did everything he could to earn his keep. His dedication paid off. By his first year, he had made the company a million in revenue – an astonishing feat, even for non-felons.
- This brings us to how social stigma against felons hurt their opportunity for reform and successful reentry into society. Hiring people always comes with risks, but people aren’t just data. They are not just their standardized test results and their previous life choices. These individuals have hopes and dreams too.
- Most of the time, it’s because we’ve marked them as failures that they have ended up identifying themselves as such – this is not okay. Adam isn’t trying to get every felon hired, but he does want to advocate for those who are actually a good fit for businesses.
- Bad things can happen to anyone and that can push people into making hasty decisions, but that shouldn’t dictate that person’s opportunity to live a decent and fulfilling life. Nobody is perfect, and people should be allowed to grow and change for the better.
- Jennifer probes into how employers can overcome their fear of hiring felons, so Adam shares the 2 things he looks for in a potential hire: First, he wants complete transparency from the applicant and to know what their crime was, and second, what the applicant is doing every day to ensure that they don’t go back to prison and how they give back to the community. A shift in perspective is all it takes to make the workplace a better place.
Originally posted on Jennifer McClure: Unbridled Talent Blog.