Building Better Opportunities

For People with Criminal Records

People with criminal records—especially the formerly incarcerated—face enormous barriers to employment. Talented and eager to work, this untapped pool of workers can bring great value to employers and communities when given the opportunity to thrive and succeed in the workplace. But too often, they are denied the opportunity they need to put their skills to work due to deeply rooted biases and harmful misperceptions.

Employer Benefits

Organizations benefit in a variety of ways from employing people with criminal records.

Employing workers with criminal records builds inclusive, diverse, and successful workplaces

Talented workers are widely available due to being ignored by the broader workforce

Employing second chance workers builds inclusive, diverse, and successful workplaces

Creating opportunities for people with criminal records demonstrates good corporate citizenship and builds stronger communities

Second Chance Barriers

Despite many employer benefits, significant barriers exist for people with criminal records.

One-third of working-age U.S. adults have a criminal record

26% of managers and 14% of HR professionals are unwilling to hire people with criminal records

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 27% of formerly incarcerated people were unemployed

Many people with criminal records are underemployed or in insecure jobs

82% of managers and 67% of HR professionals think that the value new employees with criminal records bring to the organization is as high as or higher than that of workers without records.

Take the first step toward learning how to reduce barriers for people with criminal records in your workplace.

SHRM Foundation’s Getting Talent Back to Work initiative is leading the way to reduce barriers and build bridges to employment for people with criminal records, believing strongly in the power of HR in building diverse and inclusive workplaces that deliver value to people and business. In this hub, HR professionals and employers can find all the resources, tools, and case studies needed to attract, hire, and retain people with criminal records.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP

President and CEO, SHRM

“A criminal record should never be viewed as an automatic disqualification for employment. It’s time to put an end to the stigma that holds back inclusive hiring and retire outdated employment practices and HR must lead the way.”

Real People, Real Stories

Good for Business, Good for Society

SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP explains why creating opportunities for people with criminal records isn’t just the right thing to do, it is good for business and society.

Why Hire One?

SHRM has been a leader in advocating for people with criminal records in the workplace. In his keynote remarks to the conference, SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., thanked the D.C. chapter’s HR professionals for their work on the issue, adding that the cause is “near and dear to my heart.”

Alice Marie Johnson

Her remarkable story made headlines in the news—hear why Alice Marie Johnson, who was released from prison, supports giving those in similar positions opportunities for meaningful employment.

Opportunity for Everyone

The SHRM Foundation’s Getting Talent Back to Work initiative is a multi-faceted program for HR professionals, hiring managers and front-line supervisors designed to equip them with the actionable knowledge and tools needed to attract, hire, and retain people with criminal records.

The SHRM Foundation is committed to elevating and empowering HR as a social force, leading positive social change impacting all things work. SHRM impacts more than 115 million employees through the work of its more than 300,000 HR and business leaders globally. Learn more about the SHRM Foundation at shrmfoundation.org or follow the conversation at #WeAreWork and #GettingTalentBacktoWork.