At the beginning of 2020 we had an ambitious goal: unblock 1 million candidates by the end of the year—more than twice the amount we had accomplished in 2019. Today, we are excited to announce that we were able to meet and exceed that goal for a total of 1.5 million unblocked candidates thanks to the dedication of our employees and the support of our amazing customers.
This milestone marks a tremendous win for non-biased hiring and a turning point for the candidates involved. A job is a lifeline and for too many, they get passed by. One in three Americans who have a criminal record find that gaining employment can be nearly impossible. Through our fair chance hiring initiative, we worked with our customers and product to promote fairer hiring practices thus unblocking candidates who were previously ineligible due to criminal records that were irrelevant to the role.
“Time and again we have seen these candidates become highly engaged and well-ranked employees. Hiring equity is one of the crucial challenges of our time and we, at Checkr, look forward to meeting that with continued efforts and partnerships towards our mission. Together with our customers, we were able to help 1.5 million candidates, who might have otherwise been overlooked, secure employment in 2020. Next year, we want to double that number!”
—Daniel Yanisse, CEO and Co-Founder of Checkr, Inc.
Why unblocking candidates matters
We know that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rates of any country at any point in history and a criminal record doesn’t necessarily represent who is bad but who is policed, which are disproportionately communities of color. Did you know that Black and Hispanic people make up only 32% of the U.S. population, but comprise 56% of the U.S. prison population? The deeper we dive into this issue the more glaring these inequities become along the lines of race and gender. For example, previously incarcerated women of color are unemployed at much higher rates than previously incarcerated white men.
Given the statistics illustrated above, and the fact that employment is the single most important influence on decreasing recidivism, Checkr sees fair chance hiring as a critical D&I initiative. It’s easy to falter in the face of systemic inequities, but this year has shown that all hiring stakeholders have the ability to break a biased cycle. In that spirit, we announce our goal for 2021 — unblock 3 million candidates by the end of the year.
How Fair Chance Hiring Became Our Company Mission
Looking back, fair chance hiring has been part of the Checkr mission and product since the company’s inception, though it’s evolved over the years. In our early stages, we started a candidate success team to increase transparency for the ‘black box’ surrounding background checks. We expected logistical inquiries—questions about processes and forms—but what we got was a high volume of candidates calling in to say they had been denied a job based on a record that was 20 years old or irrelevant. Even candidates with expunged records would have to wait years for the charges to be erased, infact among those legally eligible for expungement, only 6.5% obtain one within five years due to court backlogs. The stories we heard touched us and inspired Checkr to take action.
First, Checkr hosted a listening session inviting people who had criminal records to share how having a criminal record had impacted their lives and ability to earn a living. From there we created an employee action team and continued to volunteer with and learn from affected communities, gleaning insights that would come to inform our product and mission in profound ways from the enhanced adjudication tools we offer like Assess and PAM (Positive Adjudication Matrix) to how we help our customers create policies.
Why start with adjudication
At the outset of 2020 we created an internal dashboard to track our progress, as we dove into the data we found that the customers who were most successful in unblocking candidates were the ones who defined a specific adjudication matrix for the role and filtered maximum possible charges. Essentially these organizations defined what types of records were relevant to the role and only looked at those records during their hiring process.
When background checks are done without a specific adjudication matrix and all charges are surfaced, an adjudicator must manually decide which records are disqualifying on a case by case basis. This leads to a time consuming and inconsistent process. We at Checkr wanted to act on this pain-point by filtering irrelevant information as well as giving further context where needed.
How Checkr unblocked 1.5 Million candidates in a single year
Checkr worked with customers to increase their percentage of unblocked candidates. We provided personalized data that showed their comparative progress, helped them define specific policies, and leverage products for optimum results.
Assess was essential tobringing automation into the adjudication process, lowering candidate acquisition costs and reducing bias. It works by filtering out irrelevant records so your adjudicators can prioritize the reports that most need their attention. Assess also helps define which records are relevant for each role in accordance with EEOC’s nature-time-nature test—All this within the Checkr Platform.
Candidate Stories was another key piece of a fairer adjudication process whichallowed candidates to provide additional context to any criminal records to help adjudicators make more informed decisions. The statement box and file attachment system provides the opportunity for applicants to make a personal statement, provide context to a specific charge, and/or attach documents such as showing counseling, community service, or rehab attendance.
We also provide candidates with the opportunities to be proactive about their records with tools like Checkr’s Expungement Service. By partnering with Lawyaw, a trusted provider of automation technology for legal services, wehelp qualifying candidates expedite the expungement process (normally this process takes upwards of 5 years) Our expungement services are available at-cost and we do not profit financially from this activity.
All together these tools and policies are a win for D&I and efficiency: unblocking candidates means wider talent pools and lower acquisition costs not to mention increased compliance. Forward looking organizations see this as the right thing to do as well as a competitive advantage going forward.
Looking to the future of fair chance hiring
Checkr is committed to working to create a more fair background check process and supporting candidates who need a second chance. Unblocked candidates make up 4% of our own staff, a number which we hope to push to 7% by 2022.
In addition to our product advances and internal activities, we recently partnered with 70 Million Jobs, a for-profit that helps incarcerated people reenter society. The company works with a community of several million qualified job seekers, eager to contribute positively to society. We also launched an online reentry simulator, which will allow people to experience what it’s like to reenter society, providing insight on the challenges of getting a job, a place to live, and support networks. This, coupled with our 2021 goal of unblocking 3 million candidates cements our commitment to creating a more just hiring process. If your organization is interested in becoming a fair chance employer and boosting compliance please get in touch.
*Please note: Candidate Stories is just one tool to help in your hiring process. It is not designed or intended to be used to satisfy or comply with your legal obligations or requirements relating to background checks under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.