The White House, joined by a bipartisan pair of governors, will host a discussion next Tuesday with executives from large and small businesses on the challenges and benefits of hiring people with criminal records at a time when workers are in high demand and the labor pool is shrinking.
Putting People with Criminal Records to Work: A National Business Roundtable, organized by The Council of State Governments Justice Center with support from the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, will feature Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and business executives from a variety of industries, including Uber, The Home Depot, Koch Industries, Brown-Forman and Johns Hopkins Health System, and others
An estimated 70 million adults in the U.S. have criminal histories, and while many have marketable job skills, they are frequently unable to find suitable employment due to barriers tied to their criminal records. Without the stability of a job, these people face challenges to successful reentry. Furthermore, without their participation in the workforce, the national economy misses out on billions of dollars in potential output.
With the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) release of guidance on the consideration of criminal records in hiring decisions; the proliferation of state and local fair hiring initiatives across the country, such as ban the box; and the growing need for qualified candidates in the workforce, employers are increasingly becoming aware of this issue. Although some businesses have been at the forefront of hiring people with criminal records, many express difficulty balancing fair hiring expectations with liability and brand concerns.
The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center has been promoting dialogues across the country between business leaders and government officials, which have focused on understanding and addressing challenges associated with putting people with criminal records on pathways to employment.