top of page

Fair Chance Hiring: Unlocking Potential and Building a Thriving Workforce

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Fair chance hiring is a transformative practice that goes beyond traditional hiring methods by focusing on qualifications and skills rather than solely on criminal history. This approach aims to provide opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals to reintegrate into society and overcome the barriers they face in the job market. As HR professionals, embracing fair chance hiring, where appropriate, can yield remarkable benefits for your organization, foster a more inclusive workplace culture, and contribute to social justice.

interview at job fair

Enhancing Diversity and Performance:

By considering candidates based on their qualifications and skills, regardless of their criminal history, fair chance hiring expands your talent pool. This inclusivity fosters diversity within your organization, bringing in fresh perspectives, varied experiences, and unique skill sets. A diverse workforce has been shown to enhance creativity, innovation, and problem-solving, leading to improved organizational performance. And, according to Boston Consulting Group, fair chance hires have a higher retention rate.

Promoting Social Justice:

Fair chance hiring empowers HR professionals to play an active role in breaking down societal barriers faced by individuals with criminal records. By providing opportunities for these individuals, we contribute to greater equality of opportunity and work towards dismantling systemic inequalities. Through fair chance hiring, your organization becomes an agent of change, promoting a more just and equitable society.

Cultivating an Inclusive Workplace Culture:

Implementing fair chance hiring practices helps create an inclusive and supportive work environment that values and supports all employees, regardless of their background or past experiences. By challenging the stigma and discrimination faced by individuals with criminal records, your organization fosters a culture of acceptance, respect, and personal growth. This promotes employee well-being, boosts confidence, and enhances overall job satisfaction. In fact, the job site Indeed found in a recent survey, that people are overwhelmingly comfortable having coworkers with a criminal record.

Understanding the Challenges of Formerly Incarcerated Persons:

New employee receiving direction from supervisor

Recognizing the formidable barriers faced by FIPs is crucial in implementing fair chance hiring effectively. These barriers include difficulties in securing employment, limited access to education and training programs, and discrimination from employers and society. The resulting financial instability, housing insecurity, and restricted access to healthcare, perpetuate a cycle of poverty and disadvantage.

The Business Case for Fair Chance Hiring:

In addition to the social impact, fair chance hiring delivers tangible benefits to your organization:

  • Access to Untapped Talent: By considering candidates based on their qualifications and skills, fair chance hiring unlocks a pool of talented individuals who may have been overlooked due to their criminal history. This expands your talent pipeline, enabling you to recruit skilled and motivated individuals who can contribute to your organization's growth.

  • Enhanced Diversity and Inclusion: Fair chance hiring aligns with diversity and inclusion initiatives, creating a more inclusive culture within your organization. By embracing the strengths and potential of individuals with criminal records, you cultivate a workplace that respects and values diverse experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds. This inclusive environment fosters collaboration, employee satisfaction, and retention.

Best Practices for Fair Chance Hiring:

To maximize the impact of fair chance hiring, consider implementing these best practices:

  • Remove unnecessary barriers from job descriptions to ensure they focus on essential qualifications and skills. This helps prevent the exclusion of qualified individuals based on irrelevant factors.

  • Establish clear policies and procedures that enable fair chance hiring throughout the recruitment and selection process. These guidelines should ensure fair assessment of qualifications and skills, giving individuals with criminal records an opportunity to showcase their abilities.

  • Adopt a holistic approach by conducting individualized assessments for candidates with criminal records. Consider factors such as the nature of the offense, rehabilitation efforts, and relevant work experience. This comprehensive evaluation allows for fair consideration of a candidate's potential for success.

  • Understand Local Laws: Stay informed about local laws and regulations related to "ban the box" initiatives. Complying with these laws demonstrates your commitment to fair chance hiring and minimizes legal risks.

  • Provide Support: Offer support resources to employees with criminal records, including mentoring programs, counseling services, and opportunities for skills development. By investing in their success, you create a supportive environment that empowers individuals to thrive.

A happy workgroup

Overcoming Common Objectives About Fair Chance Hiring:

Addressing concerns about safety, debunking myths about individuals with criminal records, and navigating legal or regulatory challenges are common obstacles when implementing fair chance hiring. It is essential to proactively communicate the effectiveness of fair chance hiring strategies, emphasizing the positive outcomes achieved by organizations that have embraced this approach.

Fair chance hiring is not only a powerful tool for companies to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace but also an opportunity to address societal challenges and promote social justice. By implementing fair chance hiring practices, you can unlock the potential of individuals with criminal records, create a thriving workforce, and contribute to a more equitable and inclusive society. Embrace fair chance hiring today and unleash the untapped potential within your organization.


Shane is the Director of Marketing for Integris. With over a decade of experience in the background screening industry, he holds an advanced FCRA certification from the Professional Background Screening Association.

The information provided is not intended to constitute legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

Employers are strongly advised to consult with legal counsel on matters related to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.


bottom of page