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Solve Your 2 Worst Labor Problems With Fair Chance Hiring

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Equitable and successful businesses that hire Fair Chance Employees promote family and community resilience by solving the root cause of recidivism - unemployment.

To hype or to hire? Sincere introspection leads to action. Unfortunately, businesses often think they have satisfied their obligation to community progress once they've uploaded that trendy profile background or content. They rarely go further.

Fair Chance Hiring is a civil rights and criminal justice reform-inspired initiative. These equitable human resource guidelines help employ justice-involved persons following incarceration.

Equitable and successful businesses that hire Fair Chance Employees promote family and community resilience by solving the root cause of recidivism - unemployment.

These highly motivated and skilled individuals are also the answer to critical staffing problems:

  • Identifying and hiring employees 
  • Maintaining stable staffing 

Fair Chance employees remain out of the justice system

The National Employment Law Project, a leading Fair Chance Hiring advocacy organization, links success after incarceration to employment:

"People require family support, community assistance, and economic opportunity to stay out of the criminal justice system. Access to employment opportunities is a critical component of this support."

Are you surprised to learn:

  • One of every four global prisoners is incarcerated in the United States 
  • 2M Americans are currently in correctional facilities
  • 600,000 Americans will exit prison this year 
  • One in three formerly incarcerated persons will be rearrested within three years
  • 60% to 70% of individuals are unemployed at the time of their rearrest

Freedom to Achieve Pathways and Practices for Economic Advancement After Incarceration shares this research by Jobs for the Future:

"Evidence shows the power of employment to reset the trajectory for people with records. We need to invest in a comprehensive workforce development approach that connects people with jobs, equips them for long-term careers, and can be replicated and widely scaled." 

Fair Chance workers often out-perform their peers

Businesses struggle to find and retain skilled workers. Fair Chance labor offers an untapped pool of diverse and inclusive talent.

Getting Talent Back to Work, a study by The Society of Human Resource Management shares the following statistics:

  • 81% of businesses report that Fair Chance workers perform as well or better than fellow employees
  • 4 out of 5 companies say the quality of their Fair Chance Hires is better or on par with non-justice-involved staff
  • 73 % of Fair Chance workers are more or just as dependable as their peers
  • 81% of companies say the costs of Fair Chance Hiring are lower or the same as those of standard hiring processes

Fair Chance hiring is legal

83% of businesses hesitate to implement Fair Chance Hiring because of legal concerns. They are concerned about violating local, state, and federal regulations limiting or prohibiting hiring those with criminal records.  

Here are great legal resources for employers who want to hire Fair Chance employees. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Human Resources Today


Which businesses are smart enough to hire Fair Chance workers?

A great example of Fair Chance employment is Dave's Killer Bread. These organic loaves are delicious, and each purchase gives a fresh start in life to the bakery's employees.

A third were once incarcerated, like their founder. He never really killed anyone, but young Dave's life choices included substance abuse and crimes that eventually led to prison.

After 15 years behind bars, Dave resolved never to return. His brother offered him work at the family factory, then let him sell custom loaves at an Oregon market. The business eventually sold its products nationally, and Dave never forgot how that first job saved his life. He made employing former prison inmates an essential component of his business.

Another company committed to Second Chance hiring is Slack, the workplace messaging platform Merit is proud to use. Many Merit partners are currently investigating how to welcome Fair Chance talent into their businesses and agencies and are updating hiring policies. 

What Fair Chance practice can your company adopt today?

"Ban the Box" prohibits questioning applicants about criminal history before a conditional job offer is extended. Federal agencies, contractors, and 37 states' executive departments follow this practice, as does Merit. 

Harvard Business Review suggests four steps for businesses:

  1. Create an intentional hiring plan based on your state's laws 
  2. Connect with local organizations to reach Fair Chance talent
  3. Conduct skills-based interviews
  4. Fairly assess evidence of rehabilitation 

Adopting Fair Chance Hiring policies will quickly solve workforce shortages, stabilize justice-involved families, and promote a robust economy. By committing to Ban the Box, your company will experience the benefits and contribute to tangible social progress.

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