Rethinking the barriers to hiring ft. Daniel Okonkwo


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From criminal records to background checks, there are numerous places where a candidate’s chances for a job can be squandered. But can second chance hiring be as beneficial to businesses as it will undoubtedly be for those given this opportunity? Daniel Okonkwo — attorney, public policy expert, and market manager for community engagement at JPMorgan Chase thinks so, and he’s working hard to reframe how (and who) the hiring process can benefit.

Key Takeaways:

[2:46] The “Ban The Box” movement has been around in the US since the 1990s, advocating for the removal of the “Do You Have a Criminal Record” box. It’s a movement in favor of second chance hiring. While Daniel and JPMC banned the box already, they have also found that they were losing prospective talent due to the background check. Daniel explains how they are working with the FDIC to try and get around these regulations.

[4:50] When people are employed, there are ancillary benefits including community building and public safety advances.

[5:20] Daniel’s work has always been about helping those in need. He worked as a public defender in Miami that then brought him to be part of the team that founded DC Lawyers for Youth. This led him to JPMorgan Chase to which he lends his experience and passion for helping people get back on their feet and showing them that someone does care and believe in them.

[8:07] For every person that walked through the door that got hired, they’ve had many other doors shut in their face. The significant barriers to employment are often built on bias, and Daniel sees firsthand how we miss out on a lot of talent and growth.

[10:24] Daniel talks about how he measures success and growth. First, how can we expand the options for people with some criminal record, and second, are there policies that can help certain offenses be stricken from your record.

[11:32] Daniel discusses the biggest challenges he faces as a leader including the huge scope of the problem, creating institutional commitment, and continued stigma around those with a criminal record.

[14:28] What is Daniel’s call to action for how we can help? More discussion regarding the issue, automatic expungement, and getting involved at a policy level.

[16:28] Daniel stays grounded and motivated by seeing the impact he makes on people that otherwise may have had a real issue with getting hired.

[21:46] At JP Morgan, Daniel and his team want to provide thought leadership and lead by example. They can help others by sharing the tools and insights they have developed not only for financial well-being but how we think.


  • “When people are employed, there are so many ancillary effects from that. From community building, to health, to public safety advances.” - Daniel
  • “There are communities out there that have been under-invested in and under-resourced that as a result of institutional and systemic racism have been left behind.” - Daniel
  • “We really believe that business has a role in making sure people are employed and can be part of an inclusive economy.” - Daniel
  • “Unmaking implicit bias and hiring and training towards an inclusive workforce is an effort that needs a lot of takers. It’s not just holding back potentially great employees from an opportunity; it’s holding back businesses and communities as well.” - Jo
  • “Working to reform a system plagued with implicit bias is vast and demanding.” - Jo
  • “The future of work is about showing what possibilities are out there.” - Daniel

Continue your journey:


Daniel Okonkwo

JPMorgan Chase


Just Mercy