How a Second Chance Culture Helps Employees Succeed


For many people, receiving a Second Chance and being given a job after being released from prison is life-changing. But their success depends on more than just being hired. It’s about the environment that they are hired into.

Crystal is the community outreach coordinator for Dave's Killer Bread. Ten years after receiving a second chance opportunity with the company following her release, Crystal is thriving in her role. She credits the culture at Dave’s Killer Bread, and describes her experience as an employee partner at Dave's this way:

"Dave's Killer Bread and the culture here has been such a big part of my success story. Everything about the people and the spirit at Dave's has played a part, but I'd say there are two major things that have helped me the most. The first is the openness of the work environment, where I can openly talk about my background. That's so important, because of course we all have struggles in life. However, working here has helped me accept my past for what it is, because DKB accepts me for who I am today. They believe in me, and that helps me remember to believe in myself. 

The second is the support system. That means that I feel I don’t just have ‘co-workers’ here. We have really created an environment that feels like a family. For me that means everything. From someone asking me how I am (really) doing, to going for a walk on our lunch break, to sharing a good laugh. Thanks to Dave's, I know I have people in my life today that support me, that I can reach out to no matter what."

Crystal's story points to one of the most important benefits underpinning Second Chance Employment and a Second Chance philosophy. A culture of accountability and authenticity allows employees (those with and without criminal backgrounds!) to acknowledge their past mistakes and be accepted for the progress they've made and the people they've become. Compassion is a key part of the mindset, as is the deep-rooted belief that all employees are capable of growing—moving past their mistakes and into healthy, productive futures.

The workplace can also serve as a key support system for employees and helps them establish positive relationships that provide both professional and personal benefit. Crystal's experience of working alongside supportive colleagues that feel like family speaks to the great potential inherent in a Second Chance culture. When employees trust and care about their coworkers, and are invested in each other’s success, everyone wins.


Stories like Crystal’s are just the beginning. Wondering if a thriving Second Chance Employment culture could benefit your business? Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation is here to help. Get in touch.


This post is part of a series for Second Chance Month, which highlights the need to improve re-entry for citizens returning to society and reduce recidivism. One of the primary ways to do this is by providing an opportunity for gainful employment. To sign the pledge and access the toolkit with information on how to create second chances at your company, visit  


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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