For the EVOLution of Business

Building a Prison to Workforce Pipeline with Televerde's Michelle Cirocco

Episode Summary

There are 2.3 million people in prison in the United States. Each year, 700,000 are released, but 83% will return within 9 years. The #1 predictor of recidivism? Joblessness. Yet over the past 25 years, Televerde has hired over 3,000 women while they're still in prison, given them training in business and in life skills and just 7% have returned to prison upon their release. As a demand generation company with clients including Microsoft, SAP and Adobe, it's not enough to just have a social mission. Over the past 25 years, they've generated $8 Billion in revenue for clients and the 30,000 sales opportunities that they generated for one of their clients resulted in $825 Million in revenue, which represented a 14:1 return on their investment. 30% of the Televerde leadership team was hired the traditional Televerde way...from prison. That includes Chief Social Responsibility Officer Michelle Cirocco, who sat down to talk about the evolution of the Televerde model over the past 25 years, their plans to scale up to impact 10,000 women, and why businesses should make employment for the formerly incarcerated part of their diversity and inclusion efforts.

Episode Notes

[0:50] Demand generation and sales acceleration, "but it's the way that we do it that is the most exciting part...employing 425 women in prison"

[2:30] 2.3m in prison in the United States, 700,000 released each year, 83% will return to prison within 9 years, 76% will be unemployed after a year and the #1 predictor of recidivism is joblessness

[4:20] The formation of the Televerde model - over 25 years, 3,000 have worked there so far while less than 7% have gone back to prison

[7:30] The hiring process at Televerde (getting a GED, typing test, interviews), the onboarding process (akin to a mini MBA, even accredited by the local community college)

[11:45] Starting a 501c3 nonprofit to helping employees transition out of prison - financial planning, health and wellness, resume writing, interview skills, job placement, mentoring, coaching
(Learn more about Arouet at

[13:30] 40% of the 200 employees at the corporate office and 30% of the leadership team started their career in prison

[14:45] Some companies use Televerde as a workforce development pipeline - for one client, 4 of their top 10 salespeople started at Televerde

[16:30] Clients include Microsoft, SAP, Adobe, Honeywell - not just about the social mission, but also about results - $8B in revenue for clients over the past 25 years, generated 30,000 sales opportunities resulting in $825M in revenue for one client, representing a 14:1 return on their investment

[18:00] Dealing with pushback from clients

[20:00] Building a "prison to workforce pipeline" - there are other companies, but few like Televerde that provide work both in prison and afterward and even fewer that create knowledge workers

[22:55] Plans to scale up - 10,000 life changing opportunities in the next decade

[24:00] Why we need to "ban the box" about criminal records on the job application - 1 in 3 have a criminal record and they have an unemployment rate 25% higher than average

[27:00] Making employing the formerly incarcerated part of your diversity and inclusion efforts

[29:30] Michelle's career path - finding her way to Televerde "the traditional way" ... through prison

See Michelle's talk (along with other Televerde employees, as well as a Televerde client) recorded from the main stage at Conscious Capitalism 2019:

Learn more about Televerde at

Find Michelle on twitter @mcirocco or LinkedIn

...and if you're ever in Phoenix, stop in for a tour!