@SHRM Making a Stand for Hiring Candidates with Criminal Record!

When it comes to hiring bias in America we HATE hiring 3 types of candidates:

  • Old People
  • Fat People
  • People with a Criminal Record

SHRM decided to try and make an impact and help those with past criminal records get hired with their new initiative called: Getting Talent Back to Work. 

GTBW is an initiative launched by SHRM to get employers to join in and take a pledge that their organizations will work to put people with criminal records back into their hiring pools. Koch Industries, a multi-billion dollar corporations with over 120,000 employees was SHRM’s launch partner, which drew some eyre from some of the HR blogging community.

When I first heard of the program, and HR blogging blow back, the first thing came to mind was the quote:

Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows” by William Shakespeare from the Tempest

There are millions of American workers right now who are miserable because they have a record and we will not allow them to pay their debt to society.

This was the same language used by Torin Ellis and Julie Sowash on their entertaining podcast Crazy and The King. Where Julie was really upset by the Koch relationship because of their conservative political stance, and Torin saw it a little less so, which I thought brought great balance to this discussion. Not blind at all to what is going on, but also hopeful and realistic to how difficult this issue really is to change.

So, what do I think about all this?

Making change is messy business. Getting people with criminal records real jobs isn’t something we’ve done really well in our society. 1/3 of Americans have some sort of criminal record and we can’t just throw all of these people away. We have to start truly believing that a debt paid, is actually paid.

Johnny Taylor has a giant association to lead. Some of those SHRM members are ultra liberal. Some are ultra conservative. Some are socialist. Some are religious zealots. Some are atheist. While some HR bloggers hate him for allowing Koch Industries to be apart of this program, I find this view to be exclusive and not inclusive of all.

Odds are there are as many people who love that SHRM has Koch Industry as a partner, as there are people who hate that SHRM has Koch Industries as a partner (with 300,000+ members the stats will play out like America in general). By the way, SHRM also has over 500 other organizations that have stepped up and taken the Pledge! Which is what this is really all about!

Like the ex-criminals we are trying to help get them back to work, why is it we believe that Koch Industries can’t help in this situation? We all have things in our life, in our past, that some wouldn’t agree with, and things that people would love, no matter our political persuasion.

Our reality is almost every organization is or has probably done some crap we all can’t agree on, but they probably are smaller, or keep a lower profile, or believe in what you believe in, so we give them a pass.

I have many friends who lean very heavily liberal. Also, some ultra-conservative. Also, some socialist, and Libetarian, and who knows what else! I don’t agree with their politics and they don’t agree with my moderate politics, yet we can work together to help others and solve problems. It’s not all or nothing. That’s not how our country works. If my neighbor views the world differently than I, I don’t watch his home burn down with him in it, I run in and save him.

We are intelligent beasts that have the ability to separate one ideology from another, and while we won’t always agree it doesn’t mean we can’t find value in one another. We are HR! We own D&I. We need to stop making Inclusion, exclusive to one belief and not all beliefs.

So, kudos for SHRM in launching this initiative in getting organizations to really dig into this issue of hiring people with previous criminal records who have paid their debt to society. Kudos to each and every company that has taken the pledge to help these people who desperately need it.

I encourage you to go take a look at the site and decide if taking this pledge is right for your organization!

4 thoughts on “@SHRM Making a Stand for Hiring Candidates with Criminal Record!

  1. I just heard Johnny Taylor give a presentation
    today in Ontario CA. He is an exceptionally good speaker!
    But He said company cultures are not “good” or
    I think he is successfully avoiding the controversy of
    recognizing that some cultures have some characteristics that are “bad” and need to be identified as needing change.
    I understand how he cannot be explicit about the reasons wage increase over the last 20 years have been very low and union representation has also been low but corporate profits have been very high.
    SHRM is a helpful organization but I believe
    it has a conflict of interest between the
    economic interest of employers and employees.

  2. Great article Tim and yes I do believe in second chances. The politics with the Koch organization I must admit I’m going to want to do additional research on. BUT why are we seemingly ignoring the old and fat…they may certainly be great talent as well. As an aging worker who has seen HR and TA discriminating against the old and fat it is disgusting but understandable but definitely NOT ACCEPTABLE. In this age of social media, our fascination with selfies and having your picture on the various social media outlets, oh and let us not forget how easy it is to find out a person’s age these days no matter how photo shopped their LinkedIn pic is. Age discrimination and body shape discrimination have never been more rampant than it seems today. I know personally how this type of discrimination has impacted me and other HR/TA practitioners. It is a waste of great talent and a rotten testament to our state of affairs. It is my hope SHRM will take a look at this type of inequity as well. Thank you for this article, we need to open our collective eyes and fight for what is right in an ever changing business climate as we practice and refine our practices in the arena of human resources. Question…does HR, does SHRM want to leave other great talent behind. I do not want that to be my profession’s legacy. I’m going to take this as a wake up call and become more active in this arena. Thank you for allowing comments, and for the professional inspiration as always…appreciate it!

  3. Hey Tim, glad my tweet could inspire a post. What I couldn’t say in 140 characters is that I completely support what SHRM is doing, just not the organization they have chosen to do it with.

    The Koch Bros have funded organizations who oppose same-sex marriage. Full stop for me.

    • Stephanie,

      I didn’t realize you did a tweet on this – are you ‘patient-zero’ for this conversation? I’m sorry for not giving you credit if you were!

      Quick question – have you looked at the entire list of organizations that have pledged and do you have any others that make this a full stop, or just Koch Industries?

      I’m 100% in full support of same-sex marriage. That does not stop me in supporting this SHRM initiative and the currently hundreds of companies that have signed on, and hopefully thousands of companies to come.

      I’m sorry you can’t. While I don’t support the Koch Brother’s supporting organizations who oppose same-sex marriage. I do support Koch Industries in their support of this needed initiative. Not all is bad, not all is good.


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