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Virgin Hotels Joins Award-Winning Program

By Claire Kelly

Bermingham spoke alongside a panel of leaders from JP Morgan, Ben & Jerry’s, Indeed, and Virgin Unite, on how businesses are engaging in criminal justice reform – from changing their own hiring practices to policy change. The conversation stretched from how business leaders have joined advocates in demanding integrity in the justice system by working to prevent the execution of innocent people and end the death penalty; eliminating barriers preventing those who come home from prison or who are working to pay off fines and court fees from finding and keeping gainful employment; to preventing young people from getting sucked into the justice system in the first place.

Access to gainful employment is a key determinant in whether someone falls into the justice system. UP companies are committed to advancing equity and social mobility, disrupting the poverty-to-prison pipeline, and inclusively growing their workforces. It’s a collaborative partnership between RBIJ and national non-profit Persevere, which is working with community-based organisations to ensure recruits receive wraparound service provision and care necessary to make the most of the career opportunities provided.

Speaking about why Virgin Hotels is joining UP, Bermingham said: “This is not just the right thing to do. It’s also good for business. Programmes like Unlock Potential create pipelines for diverse talent, building the next generation of corporate leaders. As employers across the country continue to face an unprecedented hiring shortage, this kind of initiative is more important than ever. Customers are also increasingly demanding that companies take a stand on social issues. 70% of consumers want companies to take a stand on social and political issues. It is no longer enough to simply provide a good product – businesses have an obligation to stand up and take action.” 

Virgin Hotels will begin hiring Dallas-area young adults, aged 16 to 24, who are at-risk of entering the prison pipeline and have experienced one or more additional risk-factors for adult incarceration. Virgin Hotels Nashville will also recruit Unlock Potential participants. Other participating employers include Ben & Jerry’s, Sam’s Club, Delta Air Lines, and Greyston Bakery.

“It was incredibly inspiring to see so many Texas employers and investors come together to explore how they can help create a fairer and more equal justice system – one that advances prosperity and strengthens communities,” said RBIJ co-CEO Maha Jweied. “Businesses have the unparalleled influence and resources to create real change – from fair-chance hiring, to criminal record reform, to extreme sentencing, to the decriminalisation of poverty. At this event we lifted up opportunities for how they can start right now in Texas.”

Virgin Unite – and Virgin more broadly – works on criminal justice reform because we believe a more positive justice system is possible. Campaigns and initiatives such as Business Against the Death Penalty, Clean Slate, Fines & Fees, and Unlock Potential all play a part in fixing a broken and unfair system and strengthening our communities in ways that advance public safety.

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