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January 6, 2022

Embrace DEI in Action with Fair Chance Hiring [Checkr Data]

Checkr Editorial

From racial justice protests to an increased emphasis on representation in the workplace, the last year has brought the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion into our broader cultural conversation. While corporate DEI initiatives have increased recently, employers still have work to do to bring diversity and inclusion into their hiring practices and meet the expectations of their employees. Checkr’s recent research found that common workforce stigmas may hinder efforts to make fair chance hiring a reality. 

Let’s break down some of the key findings from our report. 

DEI progress has a ways to go

Our research found that most employees either don’t believe (24%) or are unsure (40%) if their company prioritizes DEI in the workplace. Furthermore, roughly 1 in 3 (31%) say their company’s hiring process is prejudiced against certain populations. 

This means that:

  • 64% of employees surveyed were unconvinced of their company’s commitment to DEI in action.
  • We see a clear gap between companies’ stated priorities and values and their employees’ perception of their true commitment to those values. Many people (31%) don’t just doubt their employer’s commitment to DEI—they believe their company’s hiring process may be prejudiced.

These statistics highlight the workforce stigmas and unconscious bias holding employers back from effective diversity, equity, and inclusion actions. It’s clear that in order for companies to start living up to their own DEI commitments, changes need to be made.

But it’s not just about living up to company values—diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are beneficial for both business and community. They help companies acknowledge historical and current bias against certain groups, make work more accessible for those who need accommodations, and improve the productivity of teams.

Studies have shown that diverse companies perform better financially and inclusive workplaces have better employee retention and engagement. In a recent CNBC survey, 78% of employees surveyed said that it’s important to them that their employer prioritizes diversity and inclusion, and those who think their company isn’t doing enough for DEI report consistently lower levels of job satisfaction.

It’s possible that external DEI campaigns need to adopt a more internal focus to improve efficacy. Leaders need to increase internal communication around their DEI strategies, so employees feel confident that their companies are prioritizing the building of a diverse workforce that represents the population at large. 

It’s clear that companies need to set clear goals and plans to increase diversity at their organizations, as well as clearly communicate these efforts to their internal workforce. But how can employers build effective DEI programs? One way to effectively improve representation is to incorporate fair chance hiring practices.  

Fair chance hiring is one solution to advance DEI

The Fair Chance Hiring Report found that while most executives (85%) say they practice fair chance hiring, it’s clear that employees don’t believe they’re following through. More than half (54%) of employees believe hiring people with conviction histories should be part of their company’s DEI strategy. And yet most workers say their employer either hasn’t hired people with conviction histories in the past year (23%) or they are unsure (36%). 75% of employees surveyed believe their employers are prejudiced against individuals impacted by the justice system. Companies are often excluding qualified talent that could improve DEI. 

Fair chance hiring could help. Here’s how:

  • Implementing fair chance hiring strategies is one concrete, actionable step employers can take to make their organization more equitable. It can passively broaden and diversify the backgrounds of the individuals in your applicant pool.
  • Formerly incarcerated individuals are looking for work. They experience an unemployment rate that is consistently five times higher than their colleagues who are not impacted by the justice system.
  • DEI campaigns should, at their core, work to correct systemic inequities and discrimination faced by certain groups. People of color are overrepresented among the population of incarcerated individuals compared to their overall percentage of the population.

The good news is that employees believe their employers should hire system-impacted individuals. The report found that four in five U.S. workers want employers to hire people with conviction histories. Since 1 in 3 Americans have a criminal record, companies can improve and build true diversity through implementing fair chance hiring. 

A new approach to fair chance talent

The Fair Chance Hiring Report reveals that the majority of executives surveyed (90%) say candidates with certain types of criminal records are automatically disqualified from a job without the opportunity to explain the charge. This clearly tells us that a more nuanced approach to fair chance is needed. Leaders and HR executives need to be more mindful about how they assess and adjudicate candidates, and give candidates the opportunity to explain and add context to their record.

How employers can address the broken hiring process:

  • Audit your hiring process to identify areas where unconscious bias may arise. Work with hiring managers and legal counsel to consider if your adjudication process is too rigid and needs to be reworked.
  • Implement controlled fair chance hiring standards to make work more accessible for system-impacted individuals and create empowered hiring decisions.
  • Allow candidates to provide context around charges and rehabilitation.
  • Audit the hiring process for unconscious bias. Make sure you’re conforming to EEOC guidelines.
  • Ban the box’ by waiting until a conditional offer of employment has been made to run a comprehensive background check.
  • Consider setting a quantitative goal to increase fair chance talent at your company. 

Our Fair Chance Hiring Report outlines more clear steps organizations can take to build a fair chance hiring program and remove bias in hiring. 

Conclusion

Our research tells us that executives think they’re doing enough for DEI, but their employees think they aren’t delivering on their promises of DEI. The good news is, employees want to see their employers take positive, concrete action for DEI. Employees also specifically support their employers using fair chance initiatives in the hiring process.

It can be daunting to figure out how to fulfill company DEI commitments. Click here to download the full report.to learn more about fair chance hiring in action. The report covers the benefits of fair chance talent for organizations, which industries are succeeding the most in fair chance hiring, and what steps employers are taking to incorporate fair chance into their DEI strategies. 

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Report

Fair Chance Hiring Report

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

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Many people (31%) don’t just doubt their employer’s commitment to DEI—they believe their company’s hiring process may be prejudiced.