More than 650,000 people are released from prison every year.

With unemployment rising and widespread skills shortages, hiring someone with a criminal record doesn’t seem like a bad idea. 

Not sure about this recruitment strategy?  Here are 8 examples of brands hiring folks with criminal backgrounds: 

Butterball Farms 

Butterball Farms has a track record of hiring former felons.

20+ years ago, the company experienced difficulties filling positions and wanted to expand its applicant pool. They’ve discovered that formerly incarcerated people are great workers, with lower turnover rates than other employees. 

They started the 30-2-2 initiative, which sets out to get 30 people in their hometown to recruit at least 2 people with a criminal record.

The job performance of these previous offenders is monitored for 2 years to show other businesses:

“ex-offenders could be ideal, competitive employees”

(source: The Guardian)

 

Fresh N’ Lean 

About 40% of the 150 employees at Fresh N’ Lean have a criminal background. They work in the manufacturing, production, and fulfillment departments.

Founder and CEO Laureen Asseo believes refusing to hire people with criminal records doesn’t mean only passing up the opportunity to change people’s lives. But, it also means missing out on potential business assets, like employing highly-productive and loyal staff. 

Her tips for hiring someone with a criminal record are:

  • look for evidence of people sincerely changing for the better
  • observe their behavior pre and post-job interview
  • don’t hire people who committed crimes with malicious intent

 

Greystone

Greystone’s “open hiring” model accepts all applicants for their production department. Even if they have criminal records.

They have an apprenticeship program to support and train people with criminal histories to take advantage of their second chances. The program also connects them to social services where they’re guided in their transition to a new path in life. 

During the apprenticeship, candidates are taught essential workplace skills like punctuality and interpersonal communication. 

Greystone also offers non-traditional benefits like rides to work or child support to second-chance employees to ensure they do their best work.

Greystone found so much success with the program that it opened up a Center for Open Hiring to help other businesses adopt the samesecond-chance hiring practices. 

The Center for Open Hiring has provided over 2,000 jobs to people with criminal records. 

 

JPMorgan Chase

Around 10% of JP Morgan Chase’s new US-based employees are people with criminal backgrounds. These positions have no direct impact on their financial system. 

Global head of DEI Brian Lamb said:

“We’re hiring thousands of individuals with criminal backgrounds into the workplace at our firm.” 

(source: CNBC)

They’ve removed questions about criminal records in their initial application process to ensure that all applicants are given equal consideration.

And, they also work with community partners to create hiring channels for people previously incarcerated. JP Morgan shares these best practices with other financial institutions and businesses that want to adopt fair recruitment policies.

 

Nehemiah 

Nehemiah hires people with a criminal record out of compassion (and necessity).

Eric Wellinghoff, Nehemiah’s Chief Marketing Officer says:

“It’s good for business and society.”

(source: CNBC)

He said in an industry where turnover is historically high, the company’s average tenure is 5½ years. Nehemiah has 150 to 180 employees, and about 80 to 85% of its workforce is considered “second chance.”

They also have an on-site social services team, furnished family homes for some staff, and a “Wheels Program,” which provides employees with a free car to get to work. 

 

PepsiCo 

PepsiCo signed the Fair Chance Business Pledge to give people with criminal convictions a fair chance to get good jobs and enable their successful re-entry into society. 

They’re part of the “ban the box” movement — removing criminal history questions on their job applications and delaying background checks until after an employment offer. 

PepsiCo reviews each case of candidates with criminal records based on:

  • relevancy of conviction
  • time passed
  • evidence of rehabilitation

At PepsiCo, candidates have the opportunity to tell their side of the story and aren’t disregarded just because they have a record.  

PepsiCo also pledged to help formerly incarcerated Americans with job readiness training and support like Stanford Law School’s Justice Advocacy Project. 

 

Presence Health 

Presence Health worked with non-profit Safer help and hired 25 to 30 previously-incarcerated people.

These people work in housekeeping, food service, patient transportation, and as licensed health care workers.

Employing people with criminal backgrounds has helped Presence retain staff in high-turnover roles. And retention rates for these recruits are higher than the general population.

Reggie Allen, a talent acquisition consultant working with Presence in 2018 told the Chicago Tribune:

“They’re very dedicated. They’re hungry for a chance because they know they may not get many chances.”

 

U.S. Rubber Recycling 

U.S. Rubber prides itself on hiring mostly former felons (and veterans) with its “Bounce Back” program. Currently, about half of the company’s 65 employees are former felons.

They’ve been doing it for decades but say it’s especially helped them during the latest labor shortage. 

CEO Jeff Baldassari says:

“The turnover rate for those with convictions is about 25% higher than others without criminal records.”

(source: Los Angeles Times)

So, they hired a psychiatric rehab counselor to help “Bounce Back” employees adjust to the working world. 

 

Why I wrote this: 

It’s easy to dismiss the idea of hiring someone with a criminal record. But you could be missing out on benefits like higher employee loyalty, productivity, retention, and diversity. Create effective and inclusive job descriptions with Ongig Text Analyzer to attract diverse candidates from all backgrounds. 

 

Shout-outs:

  1. Prisoner and Prisoner Re-Entry (U.S. Justice Department)
  2. JPMorgan says labor shortage requires unconventional hiring, including people with criminal records (by Hugh Son)
  3. What this CEO has learned from hiring people with criminal backgrounds (by Laureen Asseo)
  4. Second chances: Employers more open to hiring people with criminal backgrounds (by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz and Lisa Schencker)
  5. Why companies are turning to ex-cons to fill slots for workers (by Tim Mullaney)
  6. Once shunned, people convicted of felonies find more employers open to hiring them (by Don Lee)
  7. Manufacturers push to give workers with criminal records a second chance (by Kate Rogers and Stephanie Dhue)
  8. Can hiring ex-offenders make a business more profitable? (by Autumn Span)
  9. FACT SHEET: White House Launches the Fair Chance Business Pledge (by The White House)

by in Diversity and Inclusion

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