Category: Business - Original Written by Britney Spear, Regional Content Editor
Will your credit report keep you from getting the job you want?
A recent study says that just might be the case.
Public policy organization Demos surveyed over 1,000 low- and middle- income households with debt to find that individuals are losing out on job opportunities because of their credit scores. The study found that nearly 25 percent of the country's unemployed have been required to undergo a credit check by prospective employers. Of that number, one in ten applicants who get screened are denied based on the results.
The latest trend among employers is one that is keeping the jobless unemployed. It's a catch-22 whereby finding a job is needed to pay off debts yet such financial troubles can keep you out of work.
Medical bills are for a lot of people the number one reason for debt. Many struggle to pay them off due to unemployment and loss of insurance coverage. Barring individuals from an opportunity that would fix the very problem for which they're being alienated creates a snowball of dilemma. How can you keep up with bills if you don't have the money to pay them?
One might be surprised to find that credit checks aren't reserved for senior level positions. The Demos study found that screenings are being equally used for basic, entry-level jobs and even ones that pay a fairly low hourly rate. Hence, you might find yourself having to hand over a consent to check even if you're simply applying for a driver or server position.
A person's credit score typically has very little to do with their ability to perform a job. In most cases, the only thing it reveals is that they've fallen behind on their bills. There are countless reasons that could be the cause. Not everyone with debt is intentionally avoiding it. In fact, many people simply do not have the funds to pay what they owe.
Minorities are disproportionately affected by their credit scores when compared to others. African Americans and Latinos, on average, have lower scores than their white counterparts. Higher unemployment rates are largely the cause of that discrepancy.
A few other issues make reliance on credit reports during the hiring process problematic. One stems from the possibility of inaccuracy. An FTC study found that nearly 20 percent of consumers have errors on their report. Another major issue lies in subjectivity. Because employers cannot see the score, and only the information contained on the report, they might make uninformed decisions.
There is an upside to using credit screening, and it benefits employers. It protects them against the possibility of theft, embezzlement and legal repercussions. Employers rely heavily on its results when considering candidates for positions that handle money or high-priced items. In most cases, however the reports do nothing more than eliminate honest candidates simply because of the financial record. It's not always a trusty gauge for making the right decision when it comes to hiring.
While many claim it's not a significant factor, more and more employers are screening applicants' credit during the hiring process. The Demos study found that previous work experience continues to be the most important determinate, yet a handful of employers admit that credit checks play an influential role in their final decision.
Current laws stipulate that employers must ask permission before running a credit check on an applicant. They must also notify an individual whom they deny based on its results, and allow a window of time for them to dispute incorrect information before taking adverse action. Such regulations tend to be difficult to enforce given that employers can refuse an applicant and still cite other reasons as the cause for denial. Further complicating the matter is the fact that state laws give employers permission to reject an applicant based on the results of their credit report, or simply refusing to consent to the process.
Many Americans continue to struggle to find work. Employer credit screening poses a serious threat to the jobless. The unfair elimination of otherwise suitable applicants is one extra hassle people don't need when it comes to searching for employment. Law makers across the nation are outraged , and eager to stop the trend dead in its tracks. A push by Tennessee Democratic Representative Steve Cohen has been established with the Equal Employment for All Act. This piece of legislation would keep credit screening completely out of the hiring or firing decision.
What's the solution to eliminate the unfairness of such screening? Demos researchers recommend that medical debt and disputable information be removed from credit reports by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It would be a big step, yet one that would preserve among job seekers a fair chance to prove their candidacy. Demos also suggested that the entire process of disputing errors be made easier. Will law makers take such suggestions into consideration? We can only hope so, as it will curtail a problem bound to get out of control given the constraints of an already limited economy.
Follow Britney Spear on Twitter @MissBritneySp
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 March 2013 07:00
Category: Business - Original Written by Jackie Berg
(Photo credit: Gov. Rick Snyder and Daniel J. Loepp, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) president and CEO)
More policy options, better pricing —that’s what Michigan consumers can expect to see following the signing of Senate Bills 61 and 62 which enable Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) to transition to the status of a nonprofit mutual insurer.
The bill enactment changes the way BCBSM is now regulated and moves Blue Cross under consistent guidelines with other insurers, while sustaining its nonprofit social mission through contributions of $1.56 Billion from BCBSM over 18 years to a new nonprofit foundation established by the law.
“This is a big day for Michigan because Blue Cross is a critically important company to Michigan residents,” Snyder stated, noting that Blue Cross has been operating as the “insurer of last resort” under Public Act 350 since 1980.
The move is expected to retain the strengths of Detroit’s leading employer, while removing market barriers that prohibited the insurer from competing on a level playing field, according to Daniel. J. Loepp, president and CEO of BCBSM.
“We at Blue Cross take our nearly 75-year heritage very seriously,” Loepp said. “Changes in how we are regulated will not change our company’s character or commitment to Michigan. Our customers can rest assured that the coverage they have today will remain in place during this transition.”
The signing of these bills will protect seniors on Medigap for years and years to come, according to
Senator Joe Hune (R) referencing the $120 million Blue Cross will provide to subsidize payments for seniors’ Medigap coverage.
“And, the change insures that the state’s largest insurer will continue to grow and pay more taxes in the City of Detroit,” noted Sen. Virgil Smith, Jr. (D), who joined a bipartisan group of legislators applauding the effort.
BCBSM, which will pay an estimated $100 million in annual state and local taxes, did not ask for any new business incentives, tax abatements or other special treatment in their efforts to move toward a more even competitive field, according to Smith.
Higher rates are not anticipated to result as a result of the bills enactment. The company expects to reduce its rate proposal approval process from a cumbersome 9 to 18 month process down to a 30 day process, according to Loepp.
“We expect to be more nimble and competitive moving forward,” stated Loepp. “This is a price sensitive market and we intend to compete in it.”
BCBSM expects to receive board approval on transition process steps in the summer months which include forming a new nonprofit mutual insurance company by filing articles of incorporation, submitting a plan of merger for regulatory approval and merging BCBSM into the new nonprofit mutual structure for an effective date of Jan. 1, 2014.
“Changes required to become a mutual insurance company will be small in scope compared to the changes we have been and will be implementing to conform to the federal health reform law,” Loepp said. “Federal health reform is impacting every aspect of our industry and will continue to be the driving force behind changes our customers and stakeholders will experience throughout 2013 and 2014. Blue Cross will be ready to lead this change, thanks in no small measure to the vision of Gov. Snyder for modernizing our regulatory system here in Michigan. We salute the governor for this landmark legislative achievement and applaud the Michigan House and Senate for working diligently to complete work early this year.”
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is critical of the legislation, which he says is “insufficient to help seniors pay for Medigap, or Medicare supplemental policies, after 2016.
Editor’s Note: Jackie Berg is the CMO of the Michigan Chronicle newspaper and publisher of LivingWELL Magazine.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 17:25
Category: Business - Original Written by Amber L. Bogins, Entertainment Editor
Having had a passion for fashion from an early age, An’Drese L. Hopkins knows style. In the fall of 2009, Hopkins created Kins Accents, a retail store specializing in men’s and women’s urban fashion and it has been “rocking and rolling since then.”
Based in Detroit, Kins Accents opened its online store in September of 2010, making it convenient for cus¬tomers to view the boutique collection from the comforts of their home or office. One trip to the website, KinsAccents.com, and consumers are privy to everything from men’s cufflinks and three-piece suits to women’s jewelry, handbags and shoes. Hopkins’ mission is to bring high urban style to Detroit.
“I’m homegrown from Detroit,” he said. “I want to bring awareness to the local environment and bring the fashion and culture of the West Coast and East Coast here. I want to give our region that same vibe.”
Reviews on the KinAccents website note that the products are not only fashionable, but are quality essentials.
Kins Accents has found its niche in Detroit, not only as a mecca for some of the hottest fashions to grace the city, but also as a premier style concierge resource. Clients are able to have a personal consultant come to their home or business and customize a wardrobe or look based on their needs. Many of the boutique’s clients that take advantage of the concierge services are business professionals and pastors, who like to be stylish, but their schedule does not permit them the hours needed properly shop and accessorize.
“Our customers are looking for convenience and appreciate quality service,” Hopkins said of the consulting services he offers. Not only are consultants available for clients, Kins Accents also has tailors that make house calls.
Hopkins has 10 years of experience in business consulting, and that coupled with his many years of fashion expertise, he believes, gives him an edge on fashion consulting and the ability to cater to the needs of busy professionals.
Business is good right now for Hopkins and Kins Accents. The retailer is benefitting from the development and growth Detroit is currently experiencing. In addition to servicing metro Detroit, Kins Accent’s also ships roughly 30 to 50 shipments globally per day.
Follow Amber L. Bogins @AmberLaShaii
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 10:03
Category: Business - Original Written by Cathy Nedd
Local women will be honored by the Michigan Chronicle as 2013 Women of Excellence on Friday, March 22, at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel. Now in its 6th year, the theme is “Women of Excellence: A Sisterhood of Power.” The event aims to formalize and celebrate the dynamic community of 350 influential and accomplished women that has been built over the years. Comedienne/actress Kim Coles will return this year as emcee.
The Michigan Chronicle Women of Excellence Awards honor African American women who inspire others through their vision and leadership, exceptional achievements, and participation in community service. They are women who exemplify extraordinary stature, poise and grace. They do it all while maintaining the delicate balance of filling the roles of helpmate, mother, teacher and professional.
“There’s a power in womanhood,” said Hiram E. Jackson, publisher of the Michigan Chronicle. “Our goal is to foster a community of women who can build upon their legacy of service by sharing advice, opportunities, and ideas with each other and the greater community.”
Nominated by their peers, the latest group of honorees represent different backgrounds and career paths. However, they all have one thing in commo — they contribute greatly to the business community. The women who are chosen for this award are champions of economic empowerment, the backbone of our religious and educational organizations, and driving forces in politics and community service.
More than 50 women will be inducted this year. They are corporate executives, entrepreneurs and women who serve in the public and non-profit sectors. Among others, honorees Linda Ware, Tammy Klugh and Alexis Dishman all work for corporations. Ware is the manager of Supplier Diversity at General Motors. She is responsible for managing more than 200 suppliers. Klugh is the vice president of Diveristy and Inclusion at Kelly Services, Inc. Together with other leaders at Kelly, Klugh designs global strategies to create an inclusive environment. Dishman is an alternate group manager and vice president at Comerica Bank. She mentors new lenders, helps to develop complex loan structures, and is a voting member of the loan committee.
Honorees Carla Sledge, Judith Berry and Joanne Mondowney serve the public in various capacities. Sledge provides financial and business leadership for Wayne County through her dual role as chief financial officer and the director of Management and Budget. She touches all aspects of government including the state and federal levels. Berry is the assistant chancellor of Instructional Support and Educational Accountability for the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan. As part of this new system of education, she is responsible for helping to transform the lowest five percent of performing schools within the state. Mondowney is an innovative award-winning library administrator who heads the Detroit Public Library. She wrote the book “Hold Them in Your Heart: Successful Strategies for Library Services to At-Risk Teens.”
Ifetayo Johnson, Cheryl Coleman and Kimberly Burton are honorees who work for non-profits. Johnson is the longtime executive director of the United Health Organization and Project Healthy Living. She is activist in the Healthy Cities movement and has directed several community projects focused on disease prevention, health and wellness. A master level social worker, Coleman is the president and CEO of Northeast Guidance Center. Some of her greatest accomplishments include raising more than $4 million in a capital campaign to construct the agency’s largest facility, Conner Campus. And Kimberly Burton is the vice president of corporate services and director of diversity and inclusive practices for the Council of Michigan Foundations. There she acts as the liaison and resource for the organization’s corporate foundations while leading the implementation of a statewide diversity and inclusion initiatives.
These and other women leaders will join an exclusive society of professional women who have previously received this distinction.
Last Updated on Monday, 18 March 2013 08:20
Category: Business - Original Written by Britney Spear, Regional Content Editor
Health and wellness are areas that tend to take a backseat to the stresses of everyday living. We get so caught up in the “hustle and bustle” of our routines that we forget to take care of what matters most. We tend to stop and only pay attention to our bodies when something is wrong. Yet, prevention goes a long way to ensure that we live long and productive lives.
When it comes to health concerns, the biggest burden plaguing our community is a lack of awareness. One local entrepreneur aims to change that fact.
The Michigan Chronicle spoke to Loretta Davis, President and CEO of Institution for Population Health. IPH provides public health services to residents and visitors to the city of Detroit. These services include investigating and offering information about communicable disease control, as well as testing and treatment for STDS and such illnesses as Tuberculosis.
IPH services are not just reserved to adults, but also PEDS. In fact, one of its most important aspects is the WIC nutritional program. Many families drop out of WIC when infants pass the formula stage. The program however, offers useful benefits beyond that point and during the early part of young lives.
Davis called attention to the importance of WIC, and its promotion of healthy living for local families.
“Meeting nutritional needs prepares children for school, and helps prevent obesity.”
Many Detroiters do not realize that such support is available. We readily recognize the “usual suspects” that plague community health- ailments like AIDS, HIV and heart disease. Yet, the most deadly “disease” city residents face is a lack of knowledge about available resources.
“There are services out there that aren’t being utilized, and people would be surprised to know”, said Davis.
IPH helps educate Detroiters about these resources. The organization offers over 30 programs related to family planning, maternity and the needs of expectant mothers. Services are available to individuals who qualify, and especially those belonging to families most at risk for poor child development. Healthy living is a collective effort, and one that Davis feels must remain a top priority.
"We must focus on spreading awareness, and help people understand how they can be partners in their own wellness. Prevention is a partnership, and many people need support to do the right things.”
Davis also expressed that proactivity is the key to promoting and preserving good health.
“We have a system of sick care. We need to promote wellness.”
Proper nutrition is a critical preventive measure concerning overall health. It is one step individuals can take to help tackle would-be issues prematurely before they grow into larger problems. For many, the all-important question about food is “how do I make it healthy and taste good?” We live in a world dominated by poor eating habits. The pressure to make dinners and desserts just as delicious as grandma once did reigns central to ethnic households. Overeating and consuming too much of the wrong foods can be deadly. Yet, there are ways to eat healthy and maintain taste. IPH helps individuals understand just how easy keeping up a quality diet can be.
Along with promoting internal wellness, IPH works to preserve external factors influencing community health. Environmental and food safety are two of the organization’s most important functional priorities. IPH inspects all restaurants and indoor swimming pools in the city of Detroit. In essence, its work serves to benefit all local residents.
“There’s a myth that public health is just for poor people. But, it’s for you, and me, and everybody.”
Whether it be through the inspection of public facilities or its program offerings, Loretta Davis shares that the work of IPH extends to all members of the community. With a staff of over 200, the organization provides opportunities related to volunteer work, job placement and internships. Interested candidates are encouraged to visit www.ipophealth.org or call the Detroit office at 313-324-9482.
Follow Britney Spear on Twitter @MissBritneySp
Last Updated on Monday, 11 March 2013 15:35
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