October 27, 2020
How to Support Diverse and Fair Chance Talent at Your Organization
Over the course of this month, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the importance of building fair chance hiring into your diversity program, the benefits of fair chance to your business, along with a step by step guide to getting fair chance hiring implemented at your organization. Now, we want to dedicate some time to specifically talk about how your organization can help support both fair chance candidates once they’ve been hired.
Here are a few important steps to keep in mind as you welcome new team members:
1. Have transparent conversations with your new talent
Once you’ve hired your new talent, you can focus on getting them oriented, ramped up, and comfortable adjusting to a new environment. Fold your folks into existing onboarding and training programs with your new hire cohort, and have transparent conversations with fair chance talent about any additional support they may need.
2. Be prepared to make accommodations
If your new talent was recently released from prison or served jail time, they may have conditions of parole or probation to navigate. Similarly to the way your business already makes accommodations for varying commuting needs, specific office setups for ergonomic or disability reasons, and even maternity and paternity policies, making accommodations for conditions of parole or probation during a period of supervision can be neatly folded into your existing HR functions.
3. Prepare your culture to receive fair chance talent
Building a culture of belonging for fair chance talent will help with their performance, retention, growth, and overall contribution to your business. The first and most important step to ensure the psychological safety of your new talent is to remember that your talent disclosing their record is always their choice. Your talent may want to leave their past behind them, or have conviction histories that they don’t feel comfortable disclosing, and that’s their right.
Make sure to have a conversation with your new talent ensuring they don’t feel any undue pressure to share any part of their personal life and past. Have a clear confidentiality policy that mirrors the privacy you have in place for your employees without records. And lastly, be ready to navigate conversations with employees about your process of vetting talent, like your unique individualized assessment process to calm any worry or misunderstanding your employees may have about hiring talent with conviction histories.
You’ll be able to find the right balance between privacy and knowledge sharing with your employee base with time. As you get started, consider a few “Do’s and Don’ts” as best practices for integrating fair chance talent into your organization:
Do support your fair chance talent by:
- Establishing a clear confidentiality policy and making sure your recruiters, managers, and the candidate know who knows what in regards to their background
- Creating an Empowering Language Guide to foster respect and connection and bust myths and stereotypes
- Consider shifting your culture on a larger scale by booking a Reentry Simulation so that your teams can feel a small taste of what coming out of prison and looking for work feels like to build empathy and understanding
- Volunteer with a community of practice and coach individuals waiting for release by signing employees up for a Defy prison trip
Don’t other your talent by:
- Outing your talent without consent—always allow talent to tell their own story if they wish and make sure never to share personal stories without having a conversation first
- Monitoring talent more than you would employees without conviction histories. Once you employ talent they should have 100% trust and respect and should not be subjected to limited access to information or surveillance of any kind
- Allowing harmful language or stereotyping in cultural environments. Any inappropriate comments should be met with the same HR reaction you would have to a racial slur or sexual comment
- Keeping your talent in an off-to-the-side program that isn’t fully integrated with your employee base— remember that at the end of the day you are hiring folks to join your team not running a training program
- Pressuring talent to share their personal stories in a public or external facing venue— the stories of previously incarcerated talent are often inspiring, but they are also often very personal and it’s up to the individual if they want to share in their own time
Remember that you’re hiring people, not projects as you get on the road to normalizing fair chance employment. Fair chance talent pools are a valuable workforce of capable and experienced individuals, and it’s our job as employers to level the playing field and contribute to the movement for equitable access to meaningful work for people with conviction histories. Your organization is going to reap benefits from engaging this talent pool, including bolstering your diversity program, so be sure to treat your talent with dignity and respect.
If you’d like to learn more about fair chance hiring, check our playbook, “The Diversity Group You’re Overlooking: How to be a Fair Chance Employer.”
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The first and most important step to ensure the psychological safety of your new talent is to remember that your talent disclosing their record is always their choice.