Breaking Down Data: Employee Attitudes on Fair Chance Hiring

February 23, 2022
Checkr Editor

Understand employee attitudes on fair chance hiring and how your company can adapt.

For employers, it can be challenging to predict how employees will react to policy changes. Which measures will they support and which will they ignore? Oftentimes, employee agreement or engagement with policy changes can make or break their implementation. If your HR team wants to work on hiring more diversely, for example, but managers across the organization don’t prioritize it or lack sensitivity training, your efforts may go nowhere meaningful.

In this blog post, we’ll be sharing some of the data we’ve compiled about employee attitudes on fair chance hiring, using the results from the recent Fair Chance Hiring Report, which surveyed 1,200 employees who work at companies with more than 500 workers and 400 executives who lead companies with more than 500 workers. Keep reading for some key takeaways on how employees broadly feel about fair chance hiring.

Employee attitudes on fair chance hiring

Checkr’s research revealed that many employers and executives still hold outdated views about candidates with criminal history, despite widespread belief that they hire without bias. The Fair Chance Hiring Report found that 83 percent of executives believe their company has created an unbiased hiring process. But our data simply doesn’t back this up. Three quarters (75 percent) of executives admit they have researched candidates online to learn more about their background, and the majority of those say that this research impacted their hiring decision. More than two in five executives (44 percent) say they would think less of an employee if they discovered that employee had a conviction history.

These unconscious biases against those with conviction history are a huge problem. They contribute to institutional prejudice, perpetuate injustice, increase recidivism, and potentially even represent a violation of EEOC standards. We must change these common misconceptions to create fairer and more equitable workplaces.  How can HR and hiring managers combat bias in the hiring process?

What companies can do

Educate internally about the benefits of fair chance hiring

Many executives simply don’t understand the benefits and reasoning behind fair chance hiring. With education, you can help your employees learn more about fair chance hiring and why it’s important, and therefore improve internal compliance with fair chance hiring policies.

Fair chance hiring is an ethical hiring practice that invests simultaneously in company and community longevity. But it’s also a profitable business stance.

63 percent of executives who have hired fair chance talent in the past year gave glowing reviews of these workers. They reported that fair chance talent sustains strong relationships with staff and managers (93 percent), works hard and goes above-and-beyond (90 percent), have been promoted for job performance (87 percent), and are loyal employees, staying at the company as long as, if not longer than their colleagues (85 percent).

At Checkr, we’ve seen firsthand how fair chance talent can support business success. To ensure compliance, inclusivity, and fairness in your hiring process, be sure to educate company leaders and hiring team members about the value of fair chance hiring.

Find more information on the business benefits of fair chance hiring here.

Audit and improve your adjudication framework

Once you’ve educated your employees and executives on fair chance hiring, it’s time to make change with direct, significant alterations to your current adjudication framework. (A company’s adjudication framework is the bureaucratic and logistical structure used to evaluate potential candidates for employment.) But you can’t make clear decisions about how to improve your hiring framework without an understanding of where your weaknesses lie. That’s why the first step in this process is to assess where your company stands currently in terms of fair chance hiring standards.

We mention this as a key first step in part because our research indicates that many companies operate not only with prejudiced hiring processes, but also with an institutional ignorance of these prejudices and the harm they cause. The Fair Chance Hiring Report found that almost half (45 percent) of employees either have personally been excluded, or know someone who had been excluded, from a job because of their conviction history.

Rigid adjudication frameworks, such as those that don’t allow candidates to provide detailed information on the nature of any convictions and their rehabilitation timeline, may unfairly disqualify candidates without allowing them a chance to contextualize or explain any conviction history. One reason this poses a problem is that most employees believe employers should automatically exclude certain offenses from the evaluation process. According to our research on employee opinions about fair chance hiring:

  • 87% believe employers should offer a job to someone whose previous criminal history has been dismissed
  • 85% believe employers should ignore certain types of criminal records, such as nonviolent offenses or marijuana possession in states where it’s now legal
  • 85% believe candidate’s age at the time of the offense is an important consideration (e.g., if they offended when they were much younger)
  • 84% believe time passed since the offense occurred should be a factor in determining whether a record should be disqualified

There’s much nuance to adjudication, and it's imperative that organizations consider their current adjudication process to reflect on whether it’s serving their priorities. While the FCRA has set forth some regulations to aid in fair adjudication, organizations have the power to expand on the guidance of these regulations to open their hiring pools to fair chance candidates. For more ideas on how to evaluate your current hiring process, we refer you to this blog post about the nature/time/nature framework.

Checkr Assess

There are solutions to help you hire fairly and accurately, such as Checkr Assess. With Checkr Assess, companies can create their own adjudication framework to screen out offenses which are not relevant to the job role. Checkr Assess can save time for your hiring team and help you make your adjudication framework more inclusive, all while continuing to prioritize safety and other company values.

Closing thoughts

While recent data found that employers are still reluctant to hire system-impacted individuals, we also found that employees are open to working with these individuals and even believe it’s important to hire them at their organizations.

Educate your teams internally on the power of fair chance talent, and update your adjudication criteria to become more open and fair in your hiring. There are tools out there to help you hire fairly and accurately.

For more information on fair chance hiring and how your company can take steps to make your hiring process more inclusive, download the Fair Chance Hiring Report for free.


Fair Chance Hiring Report

A 2021 report examining hiring practices and perceptions around fair chance hiring and DEI.

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