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4 best practice strategies for fair-chance hiring

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

Karen J Bannan's article summarizes some of the best practice strategies related to second-chance hiring. There are companies, such as the Greyston Bakery in New York City, the primary supplier of brownies for Ben & Jerry's ice cream, who already realized the benefits of hiring formerly incarcerated people. The hiring process is solely based on qualifications, rather than background checks or focusing on the candidates' past. We have also seen some great initiatives from other companies, however, there is still a lot of opportunities to hire talent with different backgrounds. According to the Center of American Progress, "one in three Americans have some form of a criminal record". Therefore, if companies don't consider hiring candidates with criminal histories, they might be missing a large portion of qualified talent.

Here are some of the strategies Bannan's article highlighted that helps employers implement second-chance hiring processes successfully:

1. Make second-chance hiring part of the corporate culture

Second-chance hiring as part of the corporate culture only works if it is done for the right reasons.

“It shouldn’t be done to be charitable or altruistic. It should be because your organization is committed to hiring the best person for a job. It’s not a program, it is a business model” - said Genevieve Martin, the executive director of Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation who is dedicated to help other businesses adopt fair - chance employment

Many hiring managers who applied second-chance hiring processes realized that the retention rate is higher, because the employees with criminal backgrounds know they have fewer options, and they tend to work harder to prove themselves.

2. Provide training and work support

For instance, Greyston Bakery works with the local nonprofit Westchester Jewish Community Services to provide support to new hires in any possible way that could help them succeed in their current role. They support employees with housing, child support, dealing with social services, transportation, and mental health. According to Joseph D. Kenner, the company’s Vice President: “the biggest issue was housing. We’ve had employees living in cars, and in that case, it’s not uncommon for them to feel ashamed of what they are going through”. Employers also have access to employee assistance, wellness offerings, and local and state resources for an easier transition.

3. Provide mentoring

Bannan’s article also pointed out that companies with well-established mentoring programs can improve employee retention and can foster employee satisfaction. It works even better for second-chance hires because it makes them feel part of the organization faster.

4. Keep employee details confidential while maintaining transparency

It is important for people to have the right to privacy, however, it still has to be clear for current employees that the company supports fair-chance hiring. At the early stages of implementing fair-chance hiring processes, it is also important to educate the existing employees on why the company is accessing this pool of people, so they can share a common understanding and pride.

Read Karen J. Bannan’s article here:

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