American businesses are at an impasse. As unemployment rates fall, businesses scramble to fill more than 10 million open jobs. But many are looking in the wrong places. A promising solution to this great commercial challenge is hidden in plain sight.
More than 30 million people in the United States are potential workers, but are neglected, whether it is because they have been in prison, have a disability, are immigrants or refugees, or for other reasons. A growing number of workers facing barriers to employment like these have found jobs with employment in social enterprises – a growing movement of income-generating commercial and non-profit enterprises that train and employ traditionally excluded workers and put them on the path to economic mobility.
To take Pioneer in personal services, the Seattle-based aerospace industry supplier that employs people who have previously been incarcerated, as well as recovery workers who need substance abuse treatment, housing, job skills and income. Pioneer provides on-the-job training and work experience to more than 10,000 people each year. As an aerospace manufacturer, Pioneer partners with large companies like Boeing Company to produce aircraft parts and is among Boeing’s top 1% suppliers for quality and delivery.
Other inclusive worker businesses include Annie Cannons, a digital commerce company whose mission is to transform survivors of human trafficking and gender-based violence into software engineers, and Senior year, which connects employers with âopportunity youthâ – adolescents and young adults who have lost school and work.
New search from Business for Impact from the McDonough School for Business at Georgetown University and Just Results shows how employment social enterprises like these put excluded populations into work and on the path to economic mobility.
While government workforce training programs have similar objectives, most public initiatives lack two key success factors. Private sector employment social enterprises generate income by selling goods and services and reinvesting that income to help their employees advance and earn a salary while receiving on-the-job training and other supports that remove barriers to sustainable employment. Georgetown research shows that employment social enterprises are particularly effective in helping excluded workers find, keep, and eventually move up the career and income ladder.
Conversely, government programs that most social employment enterprises lack are climb: social employment enterprises today reach only a fraction of the potential workers identified in Georgetown’s research.
The golden opportunity for American employers looking to fill all these vacant jobs is to operate and grow social enterprises for employment. Doing this could give millions of excluded people who want to to work their fair while closing the hiring gap for talent-seeking employers.
What can businesses do to help develop and develop social enterprises for employment?
Business leaders can start by hiring more workers in social enterprises for employment, as well as buying more products and services in their supply chains. Take Bank of America, which has recruited more than 1,800 young talent through Senior year. Bank of America also employs 300 people with intellectual disabilities as part of its internal marketing and fulfillment operations, Support services. And by leveraging its purchasing power in the supply chain, German software publisher SAP allocates 5% of its procurement spending to social enterprises and various businesses, purchasing products ranging from soap to hand washing food and drink for its corporate cafeterias.
Political leaders can also help by expanding access to social enterprise solutions for employment. Progress is already underway in California, where venture philanthropy Roberts Business Development Fund (REDF) established the Coalition Resourcing employment and social enterprises together (RESET). RESET members successfully advocated for legislation define social employment enterprises in the state labor code – a necessary precondition for greater public investment. It also secured a $ 150 million investment from the state in a Caltrans initiative to clean up highways while providing jobs for thousands of workers overcoming barriers to employment and connecting them to better jobs. paid in the public and private sectors.
To solve large and complex challenges like today’s labor shortages and long-term economic inequalities, leadership from the private and public sectors is needed. While ppolicy reform takes time, companies can pivot quickly to find the workers they need now.
Social enterprises for employment offer a pool of talent that is hidden in plain sight. Let’s invest in their scaling up and get everyone in America to work.
Leslie Crutchfield, Executive Director of Business for Impact at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, and Carla Javits, CEO of REDF (Roberts Enterprise Development Fund), collaborated on the new Georgetown University workforce study, Jobs for everyone.