Key Takeaways :
Candidates with past convictions are an under-valued pool of talent and providing more opportunity can strengthen businesses and communities
Both businesses and customers have become more comfortable over time with people who are formerly incarcerated joining the workplace
Many of those with criminal records are still actively seeking out chances to prove themselves both in and out of the workplace
In a chapter entitled “The Power of People you Overlook” from his new book, “RESET: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval” SHRM CEO, Johnny C. Taylor, talks about how the workplace is ready to accept formerly incarcerated workers. Taylor shares “There is nothing to fear in providing second chances to skilled workers who have paid their dues and earned a position that pays. This isn’t charity. It’s good business.” Taylor writes about Alice Marie Johnson and the circumstances leading to her incarceration and her journey post-release. Taylor uses Johnson’s story as an example of persistence and motivation, and illustrative of how both candidates and employers are ready to build accessible pathways to the workforce for people with past convictions. Taylor reminds us that employment “reduces the chance of recidivism from 32.4 percent to 19.6 percent… and yet 75 percent of those released from prison remain unemployed a year later.”
Taylors’ “RESET” is centered on advice on how to lead, especially in a post-pandemic workplace. Taylor not only talks about policy and practices to improve HR and internal culture but also addresses the importance of creating equal opportunity for unemployed workers and creating an actively welcoming environment for them. Whether it be the formerly incarcerated, physically disabled, or previously deployed, all of these groups remain a wealth of untapped talent. We are encouraged and appreciative that our national leader in Human Resources centering his new book on inclusivity and access for formerly overlooked talent. The book is available here and an excerpt posted in industry week can be viewed here.