JPMorgan Chase wants to broaden its hiring pool by giving former criminals a second chance. The country's largest bank announced Monday a new public policy agenda that would make it easier for those with a criminal record to land jobs at the bank.
The bank said it removed all questions about criminal backgrounds from job applications, and established a policy center to help former criminals find jobs.
"When someone cannot get their foot in the door to compete for a job, it is bad for business and bad for communities that need access to economic opportunity," JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon said in a statement. "Giving more people a second chance allows businesses to step-up and do their part to reduce recidivism, hire talented workers, and strengthen the economy."
In a tight labor market, Chase is making an effort to tap a demographic that is often relegated to the sidelines of the job pool.
The bank said the U.S. unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated people is around 27%, compared to 3.5% for the country as a whole.
According to Chase's own research, the U.S. loses between $78 billion and $87 billion in annual gross domestic product by excluding people with criminal records from entering the workforce.
Chase first rolled out its "ban-the-box" policy last year, according to the Chicago Tribune. The bank refrains from asking applicants about criminal history and only runs a background check after an offer is made.
The bank said 2,100, or 10%, of its hires last year had some sort of criminal record, with charges ranging from disorderly conduct to personal drug possessions and DUI.
Chase said it plans to invest more than $7 million in community organizations in Chicago; Detroit; New York; Seattle; Nashville, Tennessee; and Wilmington, Delaware, to connect people with criminal backgrounds with jobs and training.
The bank is also creating a new JPMorgan Chase PolicyCenter, which it says will "develop and advance sustainable, evidence-based policy solutions to drive inclusive economic growth in the U.S. and around the world."
Heather Higginbottom, a former State Department official during the Obama administration, will serve as the center's first president.
Higginbottom told Fortune her top goal is to work with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to ease rules on financial institutions making second-chance hires.
Additional priorities include campaigning for ban-the-box rules at the state and local level, and changing rules that allow courts to suspend the driver licenses of minor offenders, among others.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the number of hires with a criminal background JPMorgan Chase hired last year.