Blog
Jul 29, 2020

Taking Action to Help Reduce Bias in Hiring

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Checkr Editorial

Last month, we—along with hundreds of other companies— shared a response to the recent tragic events happening across the country. Our goal with that statement wasn’t just to show our support and stand in solidarity but to also reinforce our commitment to creating a fairer future by opening up opportunities for 1 million people who face barriers to employment. 

Today we’d like to build on that message and share some steps we’re taking to achieve that goal: 

1. Creating space for jobseekers to share their stories 

In the United States, the burden of incarceration is borne disproportionately by underrepresented minorities. Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons across the country at more than five times the rate of white Americans, and at least ten times the rate in five states. When companies refuse to hire people with criminal records, it has an inordinate effect on people of color. 

At Checkr, we know that criminal records alone do not provide the full picture. We believe criminality is an action and not an identity. Everyone has the capacity to make mistakes, and human potential extends beyond what may have happened in the past. Every individual has a unique story that is worth hearing.

That’s why we’ve introduced Candidate Stories, which gives job-seekers the opportunity to share additional context about themselves and the circumstances surrounding their past directly with companies considering them for jobs. With Candidate Stories, we’re helping employers reduce bias by giving them a chance to better understand the person behind the background check, while also creating a space for job-seekers to share their stories. You can learn more about Candidate Stories here

2. Building technology to reduce bias in the hiring process 

With products like Checkr Assess, we’re enabling our customers to pre-select the charges that matter to each one of their open roles, and deemphasize the ones that don’t. With Assess, companies get background check reports that only highlight the charges they’ve flagged as relevant.

For example, if you’re hiring for a desk job, you can use Assess to rule out specific charges, like driving violations, since the role doesn’t include a driving component. This helps companies tap into new pools of diverse talent while also opening up opportunities for people with records. To learn more about how Checkr Assess can improve hiring diversity and fairness check out this blog post.

3. Promoting awareness of protest related charges
By exploring the variations in nation-wide criminal records data over the past few months, we have observed a sharp increase in recent arrests correlated with protest activity. Protest is a protected civil right, and we believe it is critical for employers to understand the context of these records before making a hiring decision.

We are collaborating with our customers to provide more visibility around protest charges in Checkr background check reports and encouraging customers to leverage features like Candidate Stories and Checkr Assess to make fair hiring decisions. Through these actions, we can help our customers to identify where further attention is needed to combat systematic biases and promote fairness. 

4. Sharing fair chance hiring resources with our customers and networks 

We’ve built a handful of resources to help companies break down the stigmas associated with hiring people with criminal records. The first is our re-entry simulation, which puts individuals in the shoes of someone reentering society from prison and helps them see first-hand how many barriers there are to reclaiming normalcy, including the challenges of securing a stable job, a place to live, and support networks. We’ve also rolled out two fair assessment courses, so HR professionals can get certified in conducting individualized assessment using the factors recommended by the EEOC with empathy and understanding. 

While we’re proud of our progress, we know there is a lot more work to be done. In the coming months, we’ll be sharing more resources with companies on the importance of fair chance hiring, developing products that build upon our mission, and making changes internally to create an equitable and just environment at Checkr. If you’re interested in learning more about our mission, you can do so here

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