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Research finds growing support for fair chance hiring

August 5, 2021

New research from SHRM, SHRM Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation focuses on employer perspectives on fair chance hiring and affirms the strong business case for hiring the formerly incarcerated.

Conducted during February and March of 2021, the study surveyed 1,174 HR professionals, a mix of business leaders including 1,001 managers and 222 executives, and 1,041 individual contributors.

Updating a similar 2018 study, the research finds growing support for inclusive hiring practices. Among the key findings:

  • 81% of HR professionals believe the quality of hire of workers with criminal records is about the same or better than workers without – up from 67% who said the same in 2018.
  • 81% of business leaders and 85% of HR professionals believe workers with criminal records perform their jobs about the same or better than workers without criminal records.
  • 21% of business leaders said their organization had not hired individuals with criminal records in 2021, down from 29% in 2018.
  • Leading concerns about hiring individuals with criminal records are legal liability and potential impact on company brand if customers learn that some employees have criminal records. Employers are least concerned that individuals with criminal records won’t have the necessary skills or be effective employees.
  • About one-third (34%) of HR professionals said their organization has a formal second-chance hiring policy, and another 30% reported having an informal policy. However, almost half (47%) of HR professionals from organizations with less than 100 employees said they lack established policies in this space, and 28% of business leaders were unsure if any such policies existed in their organization.
  • Nearly half (49%) of business leaders said their organization should offer training or guidance to workers with criminal records to facilitate their transition.

These results underscore the benefits of tapping this overlooked talent pool, and the ongoing need to support employers to effectively implement fair chance hiring. Alternative staffing businesses, which train and coach workers, and supply essential services such as transportation, are ideal partners to connect employers with these motivated job seekers.

For more details, please visit the full 2021 Getting Talent Back to Work Report.

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