Richard Bronson went from being a felon to making it his life’s mission to provide job opportunities to those with criminal backgrounds. His organization 70 Million Jobs is hard at work making this vision a reality. If employers want to find competitive advantages, they must think outside of the box. By taking a chance on giving second chances when considering hiring felons, companies are finding success. Bronson and others have shared advantages to employer who take a chance on applicants with a criminal history.
Reasons employers should take a chance on hiring felons:
- Structure: Ex-felons have been in a system where they are used to taking and following orders
- Appreciation: They are in a position where they are appreciative for opportunities to improve themselves
- Success Rates: According to CNBC, executives say 82 percent of their ex-offender hires have been at least as successful as their average hire.
- Attention: They know the value of the opportunity and are careful not to mess things up
- Retention: Recent research has found that employees with records are retained at higher rates than those without criminal histories
- Recidivism: Nearly 80% of those released from jail or prison will be re-arrested within five years. Un-employment is a primary factor. People with jobs, on the other hand, almost never recidivate.
- Economic Impact: According to the Huffington Post, employers can make a considerable difference in transforming a criminal liability into a community asset.
- Inclusion: Companies such as McDonalds and Delta Airlines are hiring ex-cons as part of their inclusion strategy.
- Bonding: The U.S. Department of Labor provides a Federal Bonding Program which provides insurance for at-risk employees for the first six months of employment at no cost to the employee or employer
- Availability: With unemployment being low, many companies are struggling to recruit and retain employees, when employers open themselves to the possibility of second chances they open a whole new labor pool for their organization.
- Federal Tax Incentives: Through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for employers who hire and retain ex-felons. Under this program if an employee works at least 120 hours a year, a company can claim a 25 percent tax credit of their first year’s wages and 40 percent if he or she works 400 hours.
- Local Tax Incentives: Philadelphia’s Fair Chance Hiring Initiative provides a cash reimbursement to employers who hire felons that have been released from prison within the past five years.
- Community: Hiring returning citizens tells your employees and the cities and towns in which you do business that you care about providing second chances.
Hiring felons could be a growth move for your organization.
Employers are constantly sharing their dismay at their inability to recruit workers. If as many as 1/3 of adults in the United States have a criminal record, then there is a lot of untapped potential that is being underutilized in the workplace. According to Lucius Couloute, who serves as a policy analyst with the Prison Policy Initiative, “This isn’t a problem of aspirations, it’s a structural problem involving discrimination and a lack of opportunities available to people who have been to prison.” Greyson is a bakery in New York that is at the forefront of zero discrimination through open hiring. CEO Mike Brady talks about investing in an apprenticeship program to provide employees the skills to succeed. He notes that they let a lot of people go, but they have also experienced returns, “I see the ROI is in tremendous loyalty, productivity and culture,”
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