Advocacy is the back bone of criminal justice reform and corporate America is backing the charge.
A deep dive unearthed several companies who have pledged to create change through the support of initiatives such as the passage of“Ban the Box” legislation as well as supporting public figures such as Colin Kaepernick.
We’ve complied a list of five corporations who are pulling the weight. May their efforts inspire other CEOs to follow in their footsteps.
1. Ben & Jerry’sSource:Getty
Owners Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield have put their brand, Ben & Jerry’s, on the frontline of criminal justice reform. The company first went public with their efforts back in 2018, when it supported the New Poor People’s Campaign, a national movement seeking to complete the work started by Dr. Martin Luther King. In September 2019, Ben & Jerry’s went a step further, introducing “Justice ReMix’d,” a new ice cream flavor featuring a mixture of cinnamon and chocolate ice cream, cinnamon bun dough and bits of spicy fudge brownies. Sales from the batch support criminal justice reform. The move follows an April 2019 tweet where the company publicly addressed the disproportionate number of people of color arrested for marijuana-related offenses. Ben & Jerry’s has also partnered with the Advancement Project National Office, an organization with the goal to “use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change.” Source: https://benjerrys.co/38yhj2I
Nike’s decision to make Colin Kaepernick the face of its Just Do It campaign to celebration its 30th Anniversary makes the company an ally in the fight for criminal justice reform. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was the first NFL player to take a knee on the field during the playing of the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality in 2016. Nike’s cofounder Phil Knight told Fast Company in 2019 he approved the ad after a conversation he had with LeBron James on teen driving. When James expressed his concern for his son’s safety during traffic stops, Knight realized that’s something his grandsons wouldn’t have to worry about. The blowback about the ad was swift, garnering attention from President Donald Trump. Still, Knight stands by his decision and rightfully so. Nike experienced a 31% boost in sales when the ad was first released in 2018. Source: https://swoo.sh/36nKS5G
Puma launched its #REFORM campaign in 2018, giving activists in sports and entertainment support in fight for criminal justice reform. One result of that campaign was the Clyde Court Disrupt “Peace on Earth” shoe. Puma donated $5 from the sale of each pair to the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Source: http://bit.ly/3aFZWix
Microsoft is on the frontline of criminal justice reform in its home state of Washington. In 2018, the company supported efforts to unpack Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) and its impact on communities of color and those living in poverty. LFOs are the set of fines, fees, costs and restitution impose by courts on top of a criminal sentence. The median legal debt associated with conviction in King County, Washington is $600 while it’s almost triple that in Asotin County, Washington where the median income is 40% lower than in King County. This is only a segment of Microsoft’s lifelong commitment to public policy efforts. In 2018, the company spent nearly $10 million on advocacy on the federal level. Source: http://bit.ly/38DdV6R
5. Koch IndustriesSource:Getty
The Koch Brothers’ reputation is far from squeaky clean. But, in 2015, Koch Industries decided to “ban the box.” The corporation removed conviction history questions from its job applications. These laws also restrict employer criminal background checks until an applicant meets the basic criteria for the job. Koch Industries followed up its move by encouraging the passing of Ban the Box legislation in the remaining 15 states where it’s not yet been adopted. In 2018, the company’s philanthropic network backed the Safe Streets and Second Chances initiative which supports technology-driven reentry programs for ex-convicts. Despite their efforts, some criminal justice reform advocates question the Koch Brothers’ motives, worrying these tycoons might somehow privatize the movement for a financial gain. Still, according to the Charles Koch Institute, the corporation is committed to fighting over criminalization in favor of second chances, due process, fair policing practices. Other corporations who have publicly advocated for Ban the Box legislation include Walmart, Home Depot, Starbucks and Target. Source: http://bit.ly/2RMyNBJ