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.

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.

Hiring Justice-Impacted Individuals Is Good for Business
and Can Help Diversify Your Workforce


would be proud to work for an organization who offered training, guidance, or mentorship opportunities to people with criminal records to facilitate their return to work.


of Americans said they would feel comfortable patronizing a business that is known to give those with a criminal record a second chance – up from 75% in 2019


of HR Professionals report that individuals with criminal records have higher promotion eligibility than other hires

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

The Data is Here, and it Speaks Volumes

It is estimated that nearly 1 in 3 working adults (more than 70 million people) have a criminal record. This means that a quarter of the population has been impacted by the justice system, making this one of the largest untapped workforces.

These talented individuals face enormous barriers to employment, and research from SHRM and the SHRM Foundation finds Americans want to see second chances offered. Could any of these individuals be a solution to your talent gap?

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

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.


Get The Research

  •  Workplace Survey on Hiring and Working with people with Criminal Records
  • Second Chance Hiring from the Consumer Standpoint

Take the Assessment

 Answer 10 multiple-choice questions in relation to working with job seekers with criminal records and receive a personalized report that will provide useful tools and resources to help you drive change in your workplace.

Earn Your Certificate

 The free Getting Talent Back to Work Certificate is a multi-faceted program with the actionable knowledge and tools HR professionals, hiring managers, front-line supervisors and other HR professionals need to attract, hire, and retain people with criminal records.

Access the Toolkit

 This toolkit provides no-cost, high-quality resources along each step of an employee’s journey to support employer’s efforts to recruit, welcome, and develop individuals with a criminal background.