They’ve Paid Their Debt: Now Let’s Help People with Criminal Records Get Back to Work


Today, I’m calling on business leaders across the nation to commit to give greater employment opportunities to qualified individuals who for far too long have been excluded from the workforce because of their criminal records.
Every year, 650,000 people in the U.S. leave prison to re-enter society. They often find themselves shut out of opportunities to make an honest living. Consequently, they have difficulty reintegrating and too many end up back behind bars – a cycle that leaves families broken and communities damaged. 

It’s time business and HR leaders put an end to re-sentencing individuals who have duly served their time. People with criminal records need stable jobs just like everyone else. 
And at a time when unemployment is at a record low, and businesses are experiencing a human capital crisis, we can’t afford to continue shutting out this untapped pool of qualified people. 
It’s SHRM’s belief that people who have made mistakes and paid the penalty deserve a fair chance to bring their much-needed skills back into the workplace. 
That is why SHRM, in partnership with Koch Industries, has launched the Getting Talent Back to Work pledge, an initiative to help give qualified individuals with criminal records a fair shake at gainful employment. The initiative also offers guidance to business and HR leaders who are considering hiring this traditionally overlooked talent pool for the first time.
Already, the pledge has been signed by a diverse coalition of organizations and business leaders who represent more than 50 percent of the American workforce, including the American Staffing Association, the National Restaurant Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to name a few.
Last month, Congress and the Trump Administration passed and signed into law the bipartisan First Step Act, improving rehabilitation and re-entry opportunities for thousands of incarcerated men and women.
Now it’s time for business leaders to do our part, taking the next step to see that someone who is qualified and deserving of a second chance is considered for employment opportunities regardless of their criminal record. 
This is one of several issues we’ll be discussing Friday, February 1, during our virtual broadcast SHRM Live: State of the Workplace
Because some of society’s biggest issues are also workplace issues, and no one else has a better understanding of the needs of our country’s workplaces than SHRM. 
Join us in this movement to create better opportunities for deserving individuals who want to work. Join us as we seek positive, more inclusive workplaces. 

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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