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Trouble filling a job? Look at hiring someone with a criminal record, HR pro says

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The tight labor market is fueling a renewed push for U.S. companies to loosen their rules about hiring and consider more applicants with criminal records to fill open positions. 

While an increasing number of companies say they are receptive to the idea, many still have major reservations. And that is something the world’s largest human resources organization wants to change.

Johnny Taylor Jr.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management

Johnny Taylor Jr, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, has been on a mission for years, urging U.S. employers to stop overlooking folks with criminal records in their hiring. He argued in a FOX Business op-ed nearly four years ago that hiring former offenders is a win-win for both businesses and society. 

Since then, he says, progress has been made in hiring from what he says is a largely untapped source of talent, but not nearly enough.

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SHRM released research last year showing 38% of business leaders said they would be willing to hire individuals with criminal records, up from 33% in 2018.

Despite the stigma surrounding the practice, 81% of business leaders said workers with criminal records performed the jobs roughly the same or better than workers with no records at all, 73% found them to be just as or more dependable and 81% of HR professionals believe the quality of hire of workers with criminal backgrounds is about the same or even better.

now hiring sign

A “now hiring” sign is displayed on a shopfront Oct. 21, 2022, in New York City. The tight labor market is spurring a renewed push for companies to hire applicants with criminal records. (Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress / Getty Images)

Taylor told FOX Business former offenders tend to not only stay with employers longer because they have fewer options. They are also less expensive to hire. From a business perspective, he says, it just makes sense to hire from the pool of millions of former offenders when America has more than 10 million job openings.

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From a human perspective it makes sense, too, he says. Taylor has never been incarcerated himself but says it could happen to any American.

“There’s a series of circumstances that could lead any of us to having made a mistake,” he told FOX Business. “And you should not be resentenced for the rest of your life.”

worker stacks tiles at rubber recycline facility

Former felon Alisha Kerichenko stacks rubber tiles after dye cutting them at U.S. Rubber Recycling in Colton, Calif. The company has been hiring former felons for years.  (Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Companies continue to sign SHRM’s Getting Talent Back to Work Pledge, committing to giving opportunities to qualified applicants with criminal backgrounds. Now, the organization wants to see more of them actually take action in the new year.

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SHRM is launching a new campaign in 2023 telling success stories of formerly incarcerated individuals with the aim of getting companies “to actually hire one.”

“You don’t have to go out and hire 50 all in one day, and you don’t have to make this big announcement about it,” Taylor says. “Just hire one.”



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