June 11, 2019, Bradford Bucknum - Generocity
Many businesses are ignoring a huge opportunity to recruit from a talent pool that, to a great extent, goes unnoticed. Overlooking these workers could hurt their bottom line and customer relationships.
These workers? Returning citizens. I am intentionally using this language instead of “ex-convict” or formerly incarcerated people because they are loaded terms “that categorize a human beings’ identity in past illegal activity for which they have already been punished.”
And for businesses to not miss out on talent, they must shift not just language but their perspective on inclusive hiring.
This requires a change of the heart (“the impact case”) and a change of the head (“the business case”).
In the business as a force for good movement, I’ve learned that the former is a great starting point, but it is commonly the latter that moves the needle. And even though this movement is working to dismantle the binary of what is good for business and what is good for communities, the business case speaks volumes. In this case, there is great news: inclusive hiring, specifically hiring returning citizens, is good for business.
Fair Chance Hiring can refer to many things: “ban the box” initiatives, Clean Slate legislation, tax incentives for businesses (like the one Philadelphia offers), background checking systems improvements, anti-discrimination policy reform, and businesses self-identifying as inclusive places of employment for people with criminal records.
You can join the debate about “ban the box” and its unintended consequences, but that conversation is focused on the “how” whereas I think there is still a need to address the “why.”
Studies by the ACLU and the National Employment Law Project (NERP) show that Fair Chance hiring benefits the economy (our GDP suffers billions because people with records don’t have access to work), communities (employment dramatically reduces recidivism), and businesses (decreases turnover rates and recruitment costs and improves customer service and employee loyalty). The research also reminds us that people are not their records and “a conviction in one’s past shouldn’t be a life sentence to joblessness.”