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Why HR Should Champion Fair-Chance Hiring

Business leaders are looking to HR for strategies and innovations to address pressing talent-related challenges. Fair-chance hiring is a strategic, innovative solution to improve talent acquisition, retention, engagement, and DEI efforts.

What is fair-chance hiring?

It is the practice of assessing job candidates with criminal records on a case-by-case basis. It typically involves the Nature-Time-Nature test, which considers the nature of the offense, how long ago it occurred, and the nature of the specific role.

Why should HR champion fair-chance hiring?

By championing fair-chance hiring for your organization, you are bringing a strategic, innovative solution that enables your HR/Talent and business teams to:

  • Access a massive talent pool: About 1 in 3 Americans has something on their background check, including 19 million have a felony conviction.

  • Boost retention and engagement: Fair-chance hires tend to stay longer, while being just as (if not more) productive than other hires.

  • Move the needle on diversity and equity: The criminal legal system disproportionately impacts groups underrepresented in many organizations, including people of color and people with disabilities.

How can you mitigate risk?

Using Nature-Time-Nature, your organization avoids negligent hiring by thoughtfully assessing potential conflicts.Especially for larger organizations, it can be helpful to create a formal rubric (sometimes referred to as a Background Screen Matrix) for consistency. It would include role types, conviction types, and timeframe for consideration. Within the matrix, you would provide guidance for how to proceed for any given combination of Nature-Time-Nature.

How can you start making the case?

Despite the benefits, fair-chance hiring may not be an easy sell. For ‘social proof’, you can reference the Second Chance Business Coalition, which includes some of the country’s biggest employers. Seeing that companies like American Airlines, JP Morgan Chase, PayPal, and Procter & Gamble have publicly committed to fair-chance hiring shows that it’s good for business.

Final thought

Frankly, fair-chance hiring will not work unless HR is on board and driving the necessary changes. Within your organization, you and your teams are the key to making fair-chance hiring a reality and a success.

WRITTEN BY: Harley Blakeman

Harley Blakeman is the Founder and CEO of Honest Jobs, Inc., the country’s largest fair-chance hiring platform. Formerly incarcerated himself, he knows how hard it is to get a job when you have a felony, as 19 million Americans do. He collaborates with partners across the private, public, and nonprofit organizations, with the goal of helping people with criminal records have ample opportunity to thrive at work, at home, and in their communities. He can be reached at



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