Part 2: Four Reasons Why You Should Consider Hiring an Ex-Offender4 min read

December 6, 2018 Talent Acquisition

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According to a nationwide study commissioned by SHRM and the Charles Koch Institute, 82% of managers and 67% of HR professionals say the “quality of hire” for workers with criminal records is as high as or higher than that for workers without records.

That’s a pretty compelling figure.

You know what else is compelling? How about the fact that 74% of both managers and HR say the cost of hiring individuals with criminal records is the same or lower than that of hiring individuals without criminal records.

Of course, as appealing as the ability to acquire quality workers on the cheap may be, there are other great reasons to consider hiring an ex-offender. To find some of them out, we spoke to a prominent HR expert and blogger, a recruiter for a brewing and hospitality business, the head of talent for a medical waste disposal company, and the founding partner of a consultancy that helps organizations build diverse, inclusive, vibrant workforces.

Read on to discover four reasons why you should consider hiring an ex-offender.

1. Increased Loyalty

“You know what’s criminal? The fact that we say someone has paid his or her price to society, and then we keep making them pay it for the rest of their life when it comes time to find a job.

Ex-offenders are an untapped talent pool that almost every recruiter and HR pro walk away from. There’s a number of reasons why, but usually it all comes down to risk. ‘”We don’t want to hire convicts because what if they do something bad to one of our employees?’ No one wants to be the one who signed off on that hire.

The reality is, hiring someone who did their time and just wants a second chance might be the most loyal hire you’ll ever make.”

Tim Sackett, SPHR, SCP
President, HRU Technical Resources

2. You Won’t Needlessly Constrict the Size of Your Labor Pool

“We don’t do any criminal background checks at Revolution Brewing, which is a strategic decision. We are involved in the hospitality and wholesale businesses, and we know we’re going to have candidates with convictions. We don’t want these offenses to prevent anybody from getting a job because they just don’t have much to do with a person’s ability to be a server or a line cook.

The fact is, we don’t have problems with people with prior criminal backgrounds creating issues in our workplace. We don’t feel the need to run criminal background checks as a condition of employment for reasons of that are both practical and philosophical. We’ve never had any drive to take that on, so we just aren’t doing it.”

Andrew Cole, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
HR Manager, Revolution Brewing

3. You May Find Yourself with Access to an Untapped Pool of Talent

“Not to be glib, but for some candidates, the prison experience can be almost like an internship program. It really blows me away because, if you think about it, employers who are open to hiring the ex-offenders who have bettered themselves through prison-system education and vocational training can end up having an exclusive relationship with the federal organizations that run these programs.

These companies actually get to pick and choose whoever they want to hire for whatever role they have open that aligns with that profile. And that’s not to mention the loyalty they may earn from their new hires! If the employer is assessing talent in the right way in the front end and through the program, they will work there forever because their employer gave them a shot when no one else would upon the transition back into society.”

—Jonathan A. Ziemer
Head of Talent, North America; Daniels Health

4. You’ll Automatically Contribute to the Diversity of Your Organization

“Drawing candidates from a population of ex-offenders will dramatically diversify your applicant pool.

Diversification is very difficult to do, and the way a lot of people go about it is to focus their efforts on finding diverse individuals—basically racial profiling—within their everyday talent pools. Drawing candidates from pools of talent where everyone is diverse makes a lot more sense. For lack of a better term, it’s like a shortcut or a workaround.

If you committed yourself to exclusively hiring people who were ex-felons, your workforce would become more diverse over time simply because of the demography of that talent pool works out that way. But demography is just one component of diversity. Another important component is a candidate’s perspective.

For example, people put tremendous value on having military experience. This is the same. The perspective of somebody who’s been incarcerated and gotten out adds to the diversity of perspective at your company by definition. I would argue that if you’re trying to have a truly diverse and inclusive environment and you’re trying to bring as many perspectives to bear, this is a perspective that needs to be heard.”

Tom Alexander 
Founding Partner, Holistic

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