Mar 01, 2019

ICYMI: Business Insider: Koch Network Teams with the Society for Human Resource Management to Spur Second Chance Hiring

Post by Freedom Partners

Mark Holden | Business Insider | Koch Industries is pushing companies to hire more ex-prisoners because it ‘makes economic sense’

Criminal justice reform is a major step forward for our country. But society won’t get the full benefit if individuals with criminal records can’t access stable jobs.

“In December, Congress overwhelmingly passed the First Step Act, bipartisan legislation that improves rehabilitation and re-entry opportunities for thousands of federally incarcerated men and women. But without employment, reintegration into society can prove too difficult, and those who are formerly incarcerated all too often find themselves back behind bars. Even just possessing a criminal record can carry a major impediment to work.

“To that end, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Koch Industries, and other business leaders recently announced a national initiative supporting the hiring of qualified individuals with criminal backgrounds who are deserving of a second chance. The Getting Talent Back to Work initiative calls on CEOs, corporate executives and association leaders to pledge to consider qualified individuals with criminal histories for jobs at their organizations.”

“In the U.S., one in three adults has a criminal record. This is about as many as those with college degrees. And each year, nearly 700,000 are released from prison to find themselves often locked out of the job market. The unemployment rate of those formerly incarcerated is five times the national average. At the same time, there are 7 million job openings in the U.S. right now as businesses fiercely compete for talent.

“Bringing adults with criminal records into the workforce simply makes economic sense. Nearly $87 billion in GDP is lost each year by excluding these individuals from the job market. Meanwhile, the U.S. is experiencing ultra-low unemployment rates, 10,000 workers are retiring from the workforce every day, and there is a growing deficit of skilled workers to fill in-demand jobs.”

“When people with criminal histories have gainful employment, it breaks the cycle of prison and poverty, positively affecting an ecosystem of families, employers, communities, and society. That’s why we are urging companies to rethink their practices about hiring candidates with criminal backgrounds and to weigh the considerable benefits.

“An overwhelming number of managers and HR leaders believe those with criminal records bring the same — or greater — value to a company as workers without records. And while they say they are open to hiring from this untapped pool of candidates, most aren’t sure about their organizations’ stance on this issue. Research conducted by SHRM and the Charles Koch Institute found that while there is a willingness to hire people with criminal records, only 5% of managers and 3% of HR professionals said their company actively recruits people with criminal records.”

“Hiring people who want a chance to work is a win-win-win: It helps keep families together by decreasing the chance of recidivism, it supports a valuable talent pool of willing and trainable workers, and it gives people who have made mistakes the dignity of work.”

Click here to read the full op-ed.

Mark Holden is the chairman of Freedom Partners.