New SHRM and CKI Survey Highlights Value of Workers with Criminal Records

May 10, 2021

SHRM Media Contact: Julie Hirschhorn                               
Julie.Hirschhorn@shrm.org
Stand Together/CKI Media Contact: Andrew Isenhour
aisenhour@standtogether.org  

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Today, new research released from SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management), the SHRM Foundation and the Charles Koch Institute (CKI) – a member of the Stand Together philanthropic community – highlights the majority of HR professionals and business leaders in the U.S. believe individuals with criminal records perform the same or better than other hires in terms of job performance, promotion potential, dependability, retention, and overall quality of hire.

With a skills gap and unprecedented changes in the way U.S. businesses work and operate, the survey shows how employers are thinking about this untapped talent pool, which impacts more than 1 in 3 Americans who have a criminal record.

"For years, SHRM and the Charles Koch Institute (CKI) have been committed to changing the narrative and helping people with criminal records thrive and succeed in the workplace. We know when people with criminal records are excluded from the workforce, a large, willing, trainable talent source goes to waste. Businesses can't afford to ignore this key talent pool—who in fact, make hardworking and loyal employees," said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, SHRM's president and chief executive officer. "By encouraging employers to recruit, hire, and give workers with a criminal background a chance, we can help close the skills gap and break the cycle of recidivism, positively impacting families, communities and businesses across the country—not just now, but for generations to come."

People with criminal records—especially the formerly incarcerated—face enormous barriers to employment. The survey comes nearly three years after SHRM and CKI released research showing a majority of workers in all roles said they were willing to hire and work with those who have a criminal record.

The 2021 Getting Talent Back to Work Report, which polled HR professionals, individual contributors, managers, and business executives, found:

  • 85 percent of HR professionals and 81 percent of business leaders believe workers with criminal records perform just as well or better in their jobs compared to workers without criminal records.
  • 66 percent of HR professionals indicated they would be willing to work with individuals who have criminal records – up from less than half who felt this way in 2018.
  • 68 percent of HR professionals and nearly half of business leaders responded their organization wanting to hire the best candidate for a job regardless of criminal history played a very large role behind the decision to hire from this talent pool.

  • 53 percent of HR professionals say they would be willing to hire individuals with criminal records, up from just 37 percent in 2018.

"Lack of employment is one of the biggest barriers to successful reentry for those with a record," said CKI Executive Director Derek Johnson. "Second chances not only empower the individual to contribute fully and make families whole, they also reduce recidivism and increase public safety in our communities. More importantly, second chance hiring benefits the employer with quality talent that has worked for and values the opportunity."

Additionally, the SHRM Foundation's Getting Talent Back to Work platform and certificate program provides HR and organization leaders with the tools, research and expert advice for businesses who want to hire candidates from this untapped talent pool.

SHRM and Stand Together are also founding partners of the Second Chance Business Coalition, a cross-sector group of large employers committed to expanding hiring and advancement practices within their companies for people with criminal records.

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Methodology: The survey of individual contributors, managers, and executives was fielded February 15 – March 29, 2021, by NORC at the University of Chicago for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Stand Together. Online interviews were conducted with 1,041 individual contributors, 1,001 managers, and 222 executives.

All interviews were conducted using the AmeriSpeak Panel®, NORC at the University of Chicago's nationally representative, probability-based panel, with the exception of a portion of the executive sample (142 interviews) that was supported by Dynata's non-probability online panel. The margin of error is approximately ± 2.94 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

For comparability purposes, managers and executives who were interviewed using the probability-based AmeriSpeak® Panel were combined and weighted to the U.S. working population for analysis purposes. This group is referred to as "business leaders" throughout the report. Independent executive data are not weighted when reported.

The survey of HR professionals was fielded by SHRM to a random sample of active SHRM members from February 2 – March 2, 2021. In total, 1,174 members responded to the survey. Academics, students, consultants, and retired HR professionals were excluded from the sample. Respondents represented organizations of all sizes—from between two and more than 25,000 employees—in a variety of industries and sectors across the United States. This data is unweighted.

About SHRM
SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today's evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at SHRM.org and on Twitter @SHRM.

About the SHRM Foundation 
The SHRM Foundation's mission is to mobilize the power of HR and activate the generosity of donors to lead positive social change impacting all things work. The Foundation is committed to elevating and empowering HR as a social force through its innovative solutions to workplace inclusion challenges, programming designed to inspire and empower the next generation of HR leaders, and awarding scholarships and professional development grants to educate and develop students and HR professionals. The SHRM Foundation is a 501(c)(3) philanthropic affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management. Learn more at shrmfoundation.org or on Twitter @SHRMFoundation.

About the Charles Koch Institute
The Charles Koch Institute (CKI) inspires and invests in social entrepreneurs developing solutions to America's most pressing problems. Read more about its support for social entrepreneurs committed to criminal justice reform here and consider partnership opportunities here. For more information about CKI's activities across other issue areas, visit www.charleskochinstitute.orgor @CKinstitute on Twitter.

About Stand Together
Stand Together empowers people dedicated to helping others improve their lives. Our philanthropic community tackles some of the biggest challenges of our times, including reforming the nation's criminal justice system, strengthening K-12 education, helping neighbors beat poverty and addiction, empowering everyone to find fulfilling work, and more. We can all make a greater difference by uniting, than we can by acting on our own. Learn more at www.standtogether.org or on Twitter @stand_together.

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