Nearly 700,000 people (1 in 3 adults) are released from prison each year. These are people with criminal records that have served their time and yet as employers, we are often quick re-sentence them by locking them out of the job market even though we are facing a human capitol crisis.
Why is this?
Part of our human flaw is being stubborn, hypocritical, and close minded. We often believe what we want and nobody can change our minds. We think that we (ourselves) can change, but others cannot. Think about it, are you the same person that you were in high school? What about in college or when you first started your career? You probably would answer that you’ve changed over the years. Most of us like to think that we’ve changed for the better.
However, when it comes to those that that we didn’t like in school, we often believe that they are incapable of change. They are the same person now that they were then. The same goes for our beliefs of individuals with criminal records. They did something wrong and therefore they are incapable of change.
But that’s a load of crap.
Yes, these people have made a mistake or two and it’s recorded on paper. But, that shouldn’t stop them from getting a second chance. An important part of life is learning from our mistakes and moving forward. However, it’s hard to move forward when the door to opportunities are constantly being slammed in your face. This is why so many educated and highly-skilled workers with criminal records are ending up in low-skill, underpaying positions. Shutting them out of the job market due to their record is only holding real talent back from the potential value that they could bring to your organization and re-sentencing those that have already served their sentence.
In this tight labor market, we shouldn’t be shutting out perfectly qualified candidates. We should be inviting them in to expand our talent pool. And chances are, this exiled talent pool will be so grateful for opportunities that they will become some of the best, hardest working and most dedicated employees that you have. It’s up to us to provide them with an equal opportunity to flourish. To give second chances that can change lives.
So, what will you do?