The White House is urging businesses to take the Fair Chance Business Pledge and commit to providing individuals with criminal records “a fair chance to participate in the American economy.” The idea behind the initiative is that individuals with a criminal history have trouble finding employment, and many communities are hurt because of the lack of gainfully employed residents and good role models. Because nearly one in three adults—almost 70 million Americans—has a criminal record, a large number of people and communities are affected when individuals with a criminal history cannot find employment.
More than 100 organizations have taken the pledge, including American Airlines, Coca-Cola, Facebook, Google, the Hershey Company, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, Koch Industries, PepsiCo, Prudential, and Starbucks, to name just a few. So if your company is interested in taking the pledge, what considerations should you think through?
by Peter Lowe
They were a rag-tag group of has-beens, rejects, and journeymen. They were hired at low wages and with even lower expectations. A recently fired 64-year-old Italian was hired to manage them. They enjoyed a 138-year history, yet no history of success. The odds of the team winning the championship were 5,000 to 1. Yet in May, the team—Leicester City—defied the odds and was crowned champion of the English Premier League. The story of how lowly Leicester City became the champion of one of the world’s richest, most competitive, and far-reaching sports leagues provides valuable tips for HR professionals.
Once upon a time a resume touting a prestigious university would automatically land at the top of a recruiter’s stack. Conventional wisdom dictated that a degree from an esteemed school signaled the best-educated, highest-potential candidates. But now a desire for educational diversity may be changing the old way of thinking.
Professional services firm Deloitte announced in late September that its United Kingdom operations would introduce a university-blind interview system for entry-level recruits “to help prevent unconscious bias and ensure that job offers are made on the basis of present potential, not past personal circumstance,” according to a post on the company’s blog.
Asking illegal or inappropriate interview questions is one of the easiest ways for an employer to create a risk for discrimination claims. It isn’t unusual for polite, friendly, personal, non-job-specific conversation to be part of the interview process. However, when conducting an interview, you must always be aware that even indirect or inadvertent questions about a protected characteristic can give rise to a discrimination claim.
Friendly may mean illegal
by Rick Morgan
Today’s current events are rife with bad news. The despicable and senseless murders at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, do not end at the doors of this historical house of worship. The event, however, does bring into focus an issue that our country and workplaces continue to wrestle with on a daily basis—that of race.
I will digress for a moment to talk about two points. In 1968, as a college freshman, I was fortunate to be able to earn a spot on our college’s basketball team. I was one of the 12 who got to travel and dress for away games. When we traveled, our coach would pair up players to share rooms for the night. One time, he came to me and told me he needed me to share a room with one of my teammates, which I was happy to do. The coach explained he was pairing us together because I was the only one who he felt would have no objections to the room assignment, which I did not. My teammate was black, and I am white. It really shouldn’t have mattered, but that was the unfortunate state of race relations in the 1960s.
In a quest for workforce diversity, employers go to great lengths to reach out to people of various races, ethnicities, genders, ages, and backgrounds. But they’re not so likely to reach out to those who have spent time in prison. Yet employers often express a desire to be good corporate citizens that “give back” to their communities.
So to hire someone once incarcerated for a crime represents a risk since ex-offenders may slip back into their old ways. But to hire people struggling to get back on their feet, support themselves and their families, and generally contribute to their community can be a risk worth taking, even rewarding for employers.
by Andy Rodman
Q As part of my company’s diversity efforts, I would like to reach out to some disability advocate groups to try to fill a few vacant positions. I’m afraid that by doing so, I may be opening up the company to reverse discrimination claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Are my fears justified?
A First off, I applaud your company’s diversity efforts, particularly with respect to the disabled — a group that sometimes is forgotten when it comes to outreach efforts. As for your fears, they are justified only to the extent that there is little (or nothing) you can do to stop a rejected nondisabled applicant from filing a failure-to-hire claim based on perceived reverse disability discrimination. Unfortunately, as many companies see from time to time, some disgruntled applicants and employees will sue for almost anything — even if the claims have no legal basis.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 allows employers on or near an Indian reservation to give preferential treatment to Indians living in the vicinity. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has taken the position that this provision doesn’t permit preference for members of a particular tribe. In the continuing saga of a case that has dragged on for years, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal (whose rulings apply to all Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington employers) recently issued its third decision, finally ruling against the EEOC.
Coal company leases have Navajo hiring preference
What gives? The number of women graduating from college each year passed the number of men marking the same achievement years ago, but women remain underrepresented in the college majors sought by technology employers. That surely accounts for part of the gender gap afflicting tech employers, but corporate culture also is often seen as a culprit.
While it’s still largely a man’s world at the big tech companies in Silicon Valley and beyond, those employers are at least becoming self-conscious about the gender gap in their ranks. Last summer, tech leaders including Yahoo, Facebook, and Google joined the list of tech companies releasing figures showing how they lack diversity.