May 17, 2018

New Study Shows Managers, HR Changing Attitudes About Hiring Ex-Offenders

Post by Freedom Partners

A new survey says managers and human resource staffers are overwhelmingly willing to give people with criminal records a chance.

The nationwide survey, conducted by The Charles Koch Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management, found more than 80 percent of those surveyed were open to hiring and working alongside ex-offenders.

When asked, 74 percent of managers and around 84 percent of HR professionals said they were willing to hire people with criminal records or neutral on the issue. And 84 percent of managers and 88 percent of HR professionals said they were neutral or willing to work alongside ex-offenders.

Only a handful of those surveyed said they were unwilling to hire or work with people with criminal records.

Johnny Taylor Jr., president and chief executive officer of SHRM, said it’s not surprising that attitudes toward hiring ex-offenders are shifting.

“Organizations can no longer grow without tapping into the reservoirs of potential talent hidden in our communities,” Taylor said. “In many industries, accessing human capital is now harder than accessing financial capital, so it is a mistake to exclude vetted, qualified candidates because of their source.”

But while people who participated in the survey said they were willing to hire and work alongside former offenders, few said their companies had created an official policy and communicated it to employees. There was also concern about legal liability and how customers might react.

Changing attitudes about hiring people with a criminal record can be instrumental in helping break the cycle of incarceration. A study from the Indiana Department of Corrections found unemployed offenders are twice as likely to commit another crime as those who were able to find work.

While the majority of managers and HR professionals are willing to hire people with criminal backgrounds, many ex-offenders don’t have the skills needed to successfully reenter the workforce. If policymakers are serious about reducing recidivism, they need to be seizing every opportunity to ensure ex-offenders can get those skills. The FIRST STEP Act currently being considered in Congress is one of those opportunities. Learn more about the bill and urge lawmakers to support it here.