Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM)

The Challenge

At present, more than 70 million Americans have a criminal record. This group represents a significantly undervalued talent pool. With strategic, comprehensive, and targeted outreach approaches, employers can reach these talented candidates. SHRM is leading the charge to develop a strong research base that proves hiring people with convictions is good for business. Their 2021 SHRM Getting Talent Back to Work Report shares that 81% of business leaders and 85% of HR professionals believe workers with criminal records perform their jobs about the same or better than workers without. In response to growing calls for racial justice and the benefits of fair chance hiring, nearly 66% of HR professionals surveyed said they would be willing to work with individuals with criminal records – up from 49% who said they would be willing in 2018. Roughly half of business leaders said their organization should offer training or guidance to workers with criminal records to facilitate their transition.

SHRM’s research reflects the reality that more and more employers see the benefits of fair chance hiring. However, many struggle to identify how to begin this process. Reentry experts and direct service providers can serve as guides, trainers, and thought-partners to help companies implement best in class policies and practices.

A Partnership to Meet the Challenge

In 2020, CEO launched a new partnership with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to improve the tools available to advance inclusive hiring efforts. SHRM is a professional society of more than 300,000 members representing the field of Human Resources. SHRM seeks to “To build a world of work that works for all.” In recent years SHRM has advanced inclusive hiring through its “Getting Talent Back To Work” initiative. This and other initiatives provide tools and practices focused on talent segments for whom the workplace has not always been welcoming - those with convictions, people with disabilities, and Veterans. CEO has had the opportunity to help inform the development of the Getting Talent Back to Work initiative.

Prior to partnering with CEO, SHRM had launched the Getting Talent Back to Work website, which includes a resource hub for hiring job seekers with past convictions. After managing the site, SHRM wanted to expand their offerings and knew they needed the help of a subject matter expert to ensure that the content developed was complete, accurate, and reflective of best practice. In late 2019 SHRM turned to CEO because of our reputation as an established service provider with national reach and deep expertise in reentry employment. CEO has worked with over 5,000 employers to provide over 38,000 job placements for job seekers with past convictions since our founding in 1996.

Tools to Move the Field

Through our collaboration, CEO and SHRM launched two new tools and multiple resources available on the Getting Talent Back to Work platform to support lasting culture change in HR practices:

  • Getting Talent Back to Work Certificate Program: This free certificate program equips HR professionals and other stakeholders with knowledge and skills to make their workplace inclusive of talent with conviction histories. The 10-hour virtual curriculum uses video modules, guided reflections, and quizzes to provide a high quality self-directed learning experience. The curriculum includes knowledge about the criminal legal system, including an overview of how cases move through the system, distinctions between entities like prison and jail, and probation & parole structures that can help or hinder people’s employment experience. After this foundational content, certificants learn strategies for building buy-in for inclusive hiring in their workplace and are trained on best practices for talent with conviction histories at each stage of the “talent lifecycle” (talent acquisition, interviewing, hiring & onboarding, development, and retention/mobility). HR professionals earn 10 professional development credits toward SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP certification - two key credentials in HR that require ongoing professional development - by completing the course.
  • Getting Talent Back to Work Self-Assessment: At CEO we talk with employers every day who want to hire people with convictions but have questions they need answered - everything from Ban the Box to background checks to EEOC guidance to welcoming language on job postings. We designed the self assessment tool for people seeking information on common questions about inclusive hiring and who want that information easily available. The self-assessment tool allows users to answer a short set of questions about their business needs and areas of interest. It then generates a customized PDF report with the content requested. Topics range from employer case studies, to internal communications to advocacy work -- all with a focus on supporting talent with convictions.

Bringing Key Experts to the Table

While CEO is exceedingly proud of the products and resources we developed in collaboration with SHRM, we also take pride in the process that got us to the point of launching these. At the beginning of the project, CEO convened two pools of advisor: one group of institutional advisors - people with expertise in employment law, HR, criminal record checks, and other related fields. The other advisory group was comprised of people with lived experience - people who themselves had been through the experience of incarceration and navigating the workforce with the stigma of past convictions. Both of these groups had close involvement in vetting and providing feedback on the content of the certificate and the self-assessment. In engaging the advisors with lived experience, we wanted to ensure that the content presented was respectful, that the tone was appropriate, and that the guidance aligned with what real employees would be looking for from their employers.