I am tired of reading how no business owners support the new law prohibiting businesses from asking about an applicant's criminal history before considering them for a job. I am an owner of five successful Seattle companies and an investor in several others, and I support the new law.
We have a criminal justice system that punishes and supposedly rehabilitates people who commit crimes. It is unfair to punish them further once they are out of that system. Giving ex-felons the opportunity to get legitimate jobs reduces the likelihood that they'll offend again.
Plus, the criminal justice system is heavily biased against minorities, so the hiring law helps, even if only in a small way, to balance the inequity in the job market (where blacks are twice as likely to be unemployed as whites) caused by the inequity in our justice system.
We say want people out of the subsidized-housing and shelter system, but if people in the system are denied jobs because of past mistakes, they will stay in the system, keeping them down and costing us all money.
As someone who hires and employs more than 100 people, I don't believe that most past criminal history is a predictor of future job performance. As a father I do believe we should carefully screen who we hire to work with our children and vulnerable adults, but the legislation addresses that, by exempting jobs that involve access to vulnerable people, including children, the disabled, and the elderly.
Finally, if I have any issue with this law, it's that it doesn't go far enough. And on that note, the city council needs to stop listening to conservative business groups that oppose almost every social justice reform (including paid sick leave) and tax increase while calling for more tax revenue for infrastructure that supports their businesses.
The council needs to realize that conservative, anti-government business groups like the Chamber of Commerce (which did tepidly praise the law, though mostly for the ways it was watered down) do not represent anything close to the majority of business owners in this city. These groups are not a force in elections, and and definitely do not represent or speak for small business owners like me.
Human infrastructure is as important to creating a strong economy as physical infrastructure. We should be striving to make this region the best place to work and live in the world. Giving people with criminal records a second chance instead of permanently shutting them out of the workforce is one way to help our businesses, and our community, thrive.