Kelly Services and HSRM surveys highlight the value of workers with criminal records

workers with criminal recordsTwo new surveys, one by staffing firm Kelly Services and the other by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), confirm that the times – and attitudes toward workers with criminal records – are a changing.

“Nearly one in three Americans now has a criminal history of some kind, and many are non-violent offenders unable to access work because of unjust blanket-bans companies have in place,” says Peter Quigley, Kelly president and CEO. “We discourage these blanket-bans and have changed our internal hiring practices to move to individualized reviews in order to provide fulltime employment opportunities to second-chance candidates. We’re collaborating with leading  companies to do the same.”

“Second chances are not just good for people, they are good for business and our national economy,” said Quigley. “The non-integration of those with a criminal history costs the U.S. nearly $80 billion annually. When we knock this barrier down, companies will significantly increase their talent pool, reduce turnover rates, improve diversity, equity and inclusion, and ultimately save money.”

People support businesses that remove barriers to employment

Kelly Services engaged Atomik Research to conduct an online survey of 1,010 U.S. adults between Feb. 8 and 12, 2021. The survey, part of the company’s Equity@Work initiative, found that the vast majority of respondents indicated they’re more likely to support businesses that remove barriers to employment.

The survey found that:

  • 64% of Americans say non-violent past mistakes should not automatically disqualify a person from employment.
  • 71% agree employers should eliminate or reduce blanket-bans that automatically reject job seekers with minor, non-violent criminal offenses.
  • 76% are more likely to support businesses committed to breaking down discriminatory barriers that prevent Americans from finding employment.
  • 81% say companies should do more to remove discriminatory hiring policies or practices that keep people from being hired or promoted.

workers with criminal records

SHRM finds hiring managers open to those with criminal records

“For years, SHRM and the Charles Koch Institute (CKI) have been committed to changing the narrative and helping people with criminal records thrive and succeed in the workplace. We know when people with criminal records are excluded from the workforce, a large, willing, trainable talent source goes to waste. Businesses can’t afford to ignore this key talent pool – who in fact, make hardworking and loyal employees,” says Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, SHRM’s president and chief executive officer.

“By encouraging employers to recruit, hire and give workers with a criminal background a chance, we can help close the skills gap and break the cycle of recidivism, positively impacting families, communities and businesses across the country – not just now, but for generations to come.”

SHRM publishes survey results in new report

On behalf of SHRM and the Charles Koch Institute, the NORC (National Opinion Research Center) surveyed 1,041 individual contributors, 1,001 managers, and 222 executives between Feb. 15 and March 29, 2021. In addition, 1,174 randomly selected active SHRM members were surveyed between Feb. 2 and March 2, 2121.

The research was published in the SHRM’s 2021 Getting Talent Back to Work Report, which found that:

  • 85 percent of HR professionals and 81 percent of business leaders believe workers with criminal records perform just as well or even better in their jobs when compared with workers without criminal records.
  • 66 percent of HR professionals indicated they would be willing to work with individuals who have criminal records – up from less than half of those who felt this way in 2018.
  • 68 percent of HR professionals and nearly half of business leaders responded that wanting to hire the best candidate for a job, regardless of criminal history, played a very large role behind the decision to hire from this talent pool.
  • 53 percent of HR professionals say they would be willing to hire individuals with criminal records, up from just 37 percent in 2018.
Learn how to incorporate employees with criminal records

The research and report is part of Getting Talent Back to Work, a national initiative that the SHRM began two years ago to increase second chance hiring. The initiative now includes the opportunity to earn a Getting Talent Back to Work certificate through a 10-hour program that is free and open to anyone who would like to take it.

By completing the program, those enrolled will learn how to recruit, hire and advance employees with criminal records and deal with the barriers that these people face. Participants who are SHRM certified also will receive 10 professional development credits.


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