An estimated 70 million Americans have some kind of arrest or conviction on their record. That’s one in three adults. Often, the stigma associated with a criminal record can create barriers to gaining employment and result in lower incomes.
Fortunately, 37 states and more than 150 cities and counties have implemented strategies called fair-chance hiring practices to prevent criminal records from disenfranchising qualified candidates. Here are some ways your organization can use fair-chance hiring practices to create an equitable workplace and recruit capable employees.
Use inclusive language
First, consider the type of language your organization uses during the recruitment process. Some word choices, such as focusing on an extensive or blemish-free work history, may be intimidating and discouraging for some applicants. Consider including an equal opportunity statement in job listings to showcase your organization’s commitment to fair-chance hiring, and use positive or uplifting phrases to show your openness to hiring the right candidate. For example, clearly labeling roles as entry-level or describing available on-the-job training can help all candidates feel welcome to apply.
Focus on skills and potential
Taking a skills-focused approach can help prevent applicants from being unfairly eliminated during the interview phase. Rather than looking for an impeccable resume or flawless list of certifications, HR departments should focus on hard skills, like coding, writing or CPR. Or they can consider trade experience, such as carpentry, construction, electrical or plumbing. Additionally, consider soft skills, like work ethic, being a team player, motivation, public speaking or critical thinking. These skills can provide an idea of a candidate’s potential to be successful in specific positions.
Delay background checks
Many organizations, cities and states have “banned the box” when it comes to hiring, meaning they wait to ask questions about a person’s criminal history or to run criminal background checks until after extending an offer to a candidate. Choosing to do this is a great way to ensure that unconscious bias doesn’t get in the way during recruitment.
Commit to supportive onboarding
Once a candidate has been hired, commit to a thorough and supportive onboarding process to help them become acclimated to your organization. Offer training and support not only about products or services that are specific to your company, but also about general workplace tools, like office equipment, computer software and communication platforms. It may be a good idea to recruit a trusted veteran employee to be your new hire’s mentor. They can help with questions or concerns.
New-hire gift ideas, like a notebook with pen, laptop backpack or USB drive imprinted with your logo can help make the onboarding process easier, as well as make your new employee feel like part of the team from day one.
Provide ongoing development
Continue to provide professional development to promote long-term success with your new team member. Schedule one-on-one chats to touch base, see how they’re doing and help brainstorm solutions to any obstacles they may be facing. This focus on continued support shows your employee that they’re a valuable investment.
It’s also a great idea to help them set professional development goals that interest them and check in regularly to see how they’re progressing. Congratulate them for making strides towards their goals with new-hire gift ideas, like a chocolate s’mores tin, cooler or robe with your company logo. They’ll feel proud of their success and appreciate your kind gesture.
Give candidates a fair shake with fair-chance hiring practices
By being inclusive with language, focusing on skills and providing training and ongoing support, your company can make fair-chance hiring a regular part of its recruitment process.