Employers have been focusing on diversity and inclusion programs for years. In our first article in this series, we discussed how Checkr’s Director of People Operations, Robert Gill, has added fair chance to the diversity and inclusion conversation. Today’s blog will focus on the steps that an employer can take to implement a fair chance hiring program.
1. Know the EEOC laws
Did you know that starting in 2012, it became illegal to have blanket policies relating to making employment decisions based on someone’s criminal history? The full EEOC guidelines on this policy can be found here. Instead of blanket policies, the EEOC recommends following the Green Factors which look at the nature or gravity of the offense, the time that has passed, and the nature of the position that is being considered. If no other steps are taken, it is critical to be in compliance and stay up to date with changes in regulations.
2. Get executive buy-in
Once all of your hiring practices are in compliance, the next step is to get executive buy-in. Robert explains how he was able to change the conversation and educate executives by stating, “Executives that I’ve worked with have had the best of intentions but haven’t been well-versed in EEOC laws and best practices. My advice is that the HR team is prepared to provide education to even the most eager of executives so that the program can be successful.” One example of this was around changing the conversation from designating a role as a diversity hire to having a diverse panel for each opening. The change in mentality ensures a diverse panel of candidates at the beginning of the hiring process and that no hire is selected purely because the company is looking to meet diversity numbers. With the executives properly trained on what diversity and inclusion plus fair chance hiring means, conflicts are reduced and the vision can be communicated from all executive leadership, not just the HR team.
3. Communicate with the company
When rolling out new programs, there will always be questions. When adding in fair chance hiring, there can be initial fears and concerns. Establish with your employees what it means for your company and how it will be implemented. Robert has found that, “Most people agree that having a record should not be a death sentence on one’s career. It is also about finding the balance between doing what is best to create a diverse workforce vs. taking on unnecessary risk.” Providing examples of backgrounds that would be considered for hire and ones that would not can help alleviate concerns. A point that Robert emphasizes is that, “Past behavior is not an indicator of future actions. I’ve seen a lot of people without criminal records do worse things than people with them.” By communicating the reasons that the company will benefit from adding fair chance hiring within the diversity and inclusion programs, it will allow everyone to see the value in providing an equal shot at employment.
4. Find the right partners
Don’t feel the need to take this program on alone. There are many resources to implement and run fair chance hiring programs. A good place to start is with non-profits who are focused on re-entry and training programs for people with criminal backgrounds. Non-profits can be great partners in helping vet quality candidates, train them for specific roles, and work with companies to create mutual success. The government also offers programs and assistance, such as workforce development courses, and provides employers with incentives like work opportunity tax credits. By partnering with others, employers can build and scale a fair chance program more quickly, which helps ensure success for all.
5. Start now and build the foundation for success
It is never too early to start thinking about these programs. Coming from larger companies, it was important to Robert to get a diversity initiative started when Checkr was still 100 employees. By starting earlier, diversity quickly becomes a part of the company’s DNA. It also helps with the law of numbers. If a company has 1,000 employees and they are looking to impact a segment of diversity, they must over hire in one category to see a difference. Also, Robert has seen continued success when employee resource groups are available. These groups provide people of similar backgrounds a place to voice their perspective and discuss experiences. By providing people with a group similar to themselves, no matter what that grouping category is, it helps employees feel more included and creates a better chance of success for the company, hiring efforts, and retention.
The one idea we want to leave you with is that you are not in this alone. There are networks of employers who have pioneered new thinking and ways to implement change in every industry, across every state, and for any size of company. Whether it is finding peers to consult with, non-profits to partner with, or technology to help your hiring process by mitigating unconscious bias, there are people here to help you launch fair chance hiring.