Resignations are occurring at unprecedented rates across all industries at all levels of employment. Further, the requirements for discernment as it relates to employment eligibility have never been more prominent. More states are imposing regulatory legislation to encourage employers to take a second look at candidates with a criminal history.
The Struggle To Onboard Workers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the "Great Resignation" and a reported 4.4 million Americans (or 3.0% of the entire workforce) resigning in the month of September, organizations are struggling to find labor.
From an article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, a top executive at the Little Rock Airport shared that out of the 80 candidates they made offers to, 77 failed to pass a criminal background screen.
Federal law requires airport employees to undergo fingerprint-based criminal history records checks. This is mandated for employees in order for them to get clearance to enter secure areas of the airport on a daily basis.
Airport Commissioner Bill Waker stated, "That is challenging, and I think it will be challenging for everybody as we go forward, and there's some things that may have been issues in background checks in the past that may not be considered to be an issue in the future," he said. "It just depends on how egregious the background might be. It's a problem that's going to be a nationwide issue."
Hiring Workers With A Criminal Record
U.S. banks are advocating for Congress to amend Section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, which addresses that individuals with a criminal record must receive government approval to work at a bank. Banks want to amend this law to eliminate barriers during the hiring process.
The Bank Policy Institute is a nonpartisan public policy, research, and advocacy group, which represents the nation's leading banks. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America are some of its members that would like to ease these restrictions.
According to Bloomberg, JPMorgan's Michelle Kuranty, Executive Director of Talent Acquisition Sourcing, stated in an interview that "There is a really huge demand for talent in every industry in every labor market, and this is a talented set of individuals who can and should be able to contribute in this labor market." JPMorgan employed 2,100 people with a criminal record in the U.S. last year, 10% of all new hires.
While criminal history should not be the foundation for hiring an applicant or not, it can play a role in the hiring process. JPMorgan is an example of an organization tapping into the talent pool of people with a criminal history.
What To Consider When Hiring Applicants With A Criminal History
- 79% of respondents would be comfortable working for an employer if a few of their co-workers had a nonviolent criminal record.
- 76% of respondents would be comfortable working for an employer known to hire people with criminal records.
- 56% of respondents would be comfortable working alongside co-workers who have spent five or more years in prison.
President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor Jr. of SHRM-SCP and SHRM stated, "Nearly 700,000 people are released from prison each year, but too often they are denied the opportunity to put their skills to work due to deeply rooted biases and harmful misperceptions."
SHRM Recruiting Tips:
- Connect with local re-entry organizations and probation and parole departments. They can train people for the skills an employer needs and help with job placement.
- Use the SHRM Foundation's Getting Talent Back to Work (GTBTW) digital toolkit. Additionally, SHRM's Second Chance Business Coalition provides resources for hiring and advancing the careers of those with criminal records.
- Adopt a statement that makes it clear your organization does not discriminate for any legal reason, including on the basis of a past criminal record.
- Partner with legal assistance organizations to identify people on a case-by-case basis who are eligible to have their criminal records expunged or sealed.
- Be thoughtful about the background-check provider you use. Some do a better job than others of demonstrating their awareness of state laws, such as "ban the box," and are transparent about how far back they check someone's history.
- Train hiring managers to be empathetic when speaking with job applicants, publicize that the training is part of your DE&I strategy, and encourage those employees to earn their GTBTW certification.
With 36 states having Ban-the-Box policies, which prohibits employers from considering a candidate's criminal history until after a job offer is made and/or revoking the candidate's job offer because of their criminal history, employers should consider asking themselves these questions:
- How long has it been since last convicted?
- What was the nature of the offense?
- Is the criminal offense violent?
- Are there charges pending?
- What is the nature of the job?
Depending on the industry and the requirements that need to be met for screenings, not overlooking this talent pool could help fill positions and help with your employee retention.
How Orange Tree Can Help
Adjudication tools, like Orange Tree’s HireGuide, can assist your Human Resources and Talent Acquisition staff meet Second Chance opportunities consistently and quickly. By creating a mechanism that provides consistent parameters to your organizations hiring policies, that your organization is consistently following Ban-the-Box and Fair Chance Act protocols with all candidates and have a built in “empathy” check when considering past criminal behavior.
Further, creating Adjudication practices based on positions will allow an organization to fill positions quickly and accurately freeing up precious time for your Human Resources and Talent Acquisition staff.
We recommend employers review and discuss with your legal counsel your organization’s policies and procedures to ensure continued compliance with the changing laws and regulations.
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