Ken Oliver

#399: Improving the Narrative for Ex-Cons Through Fair Chance Hiring

#399: Improving the Narrative for Ex-Cons Through Fair Chance Hiring

The Count of Monte Cristo is one of our family’s favorite movies for its harrowing injustice, revenge, and overcoming all odds.

But I never thought I’d interview a modern-day Edmond Dantès.

Ken Oliver was sentenced to 24 years in a California prison for joyriding in a stolen car. Seems like a long time for a short ride.

If that wasn’t enough, he was also thrown in solitary confinement for over eight years for reading Malcolm X. Apparently the warden thought Ken would become an activist inmate so they tossed him into a dungeon the size of a large dog kennel.

Over his first five years in solitary, Ken read all of the law books he could get his hands on. Then he filed a civil rights suit against the state of California that got the attention of Stanford University Law School as well as a prominent international law firm that helped Ken escape his confinement.

Today you’ll hear his story that would break the majority of us. But like Edmond Dontés, Ken emerged a victor and now helps men and women who have served their time find gainful employment through Fair Change Hiring.

Ken is a Vice President at Checkr.org, an international employment background checking and scanning company in San Francisco that helps brands large and small build dynamic workforces. He serves as Executive Director of the Checkr Foundation which is dedicated to Fair Chance Hiring.

I can’t think of a more powerful, better-aligned brand purpose than Fair Chance Hiring for Checkr, especially in the B2B world which isn’t known for transparent, authentic purposes beyond making money.

Discussed in this episode:

  1. How to take the darkest, most misunderstood stories and reframe them to bring light to reality.
  2. How everyone deserves a second chance if they pay their price and make amends.
  3. How success is truly the best revenge.


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