Please enable JS

Why Fair Chance Hiring is a Best Practice


Aug 02, 2023
To end the labor shortage today, you need to implement fair chance hiring. To build a diverse workforce, promote retention, and foster an inclusive culture, you need fair chance hiring. It’s a best practice for all businesses – and it comes with a strong return on investment. 

What is fair chance or inclusive hiring?

‘Fair chance’ refers to hiring practices that provide individuals who have experienced barriers to employment – such as justice involvement, homelessness, poverty, or substance use disorder – with an equal opportunity to compete for jobs. 

This approach advocates for assessing candidates based on qualifications, skills, and potential contributions to the workforce, rather than past experiences. Practices include minimizing use of background checks or drug screens, promoting workplace flexibility, and offering candidates the opportunity to explain their history.

What are the benefits of fair chance hiring?

Inclusive hiring is both a smart business tactic and a benefit to the community.

New talent pools. Employers can hire qualified candidates from untapped talent pools to meet their labor needs. Populations facing barriers to employment experience unemployment as high as 60%, are eager to work, and have diverse skills.

Loyal, resilient staff. By providing opportunities to people who have overcome challenges, employers gain a dedicated staff of creative problem solvers. These individuals have demonstrated their dedication to personal growth and bring a range of perspectives and fresh ideas to the businesses that hire them. They also stay with you: formerly incarcerated workers, for example, have a turnover rate 12% lower than traditional hires.

Culture and DEI. Fair chance hiring fosters a diverse workforce and an inclusive, person-first culture. Barriers to employment are more prevalent among marginalized populations, so breaking down barriers actively promotes diversity and addresses systemic inequities. Implementing these hiring practices promotes a welcoming work culture where all employees feel valued, included, and respected.

Community benefits. Investments in fair chance hiring are investments in the community. In addition to developing the local workforce, these practices are shown to reduce recidivism after incarceration, promote recovery, break cycles of poverty, and build stability for individuals. Businesses that demonstrate this commitment to socially responsible practices see their reputation in the community benefit. 

How can you get started now?

Many employers are eager to hire a wider range of candidates but unsure where to start.

Here are three quick things you can try today:
  1. Review your job requirements. Are any superfluous – from education level to background checks to certifications – for the job to be performed well?
  2. Check your application process. Is it easy to complete? Can you increase the speed of your interview and selection process, so that people not currently working can get back into the workforce? 
  3. Consider the job itself. Are there any tweaks you can make, like aligning the start time with the bus schedule or daycare, that would allow more candidates to apply?
Companies that implement fair chance hiring see tangible benefits in their performance, culture, and long-term success – but it doesn’t happen overnight. These practices, which are essential for modern recruiting, become part of your hiring process as you update policies and evaluate the key qualities for a successful candidate.

Here at Working Fields, we’ve been practicing fair chance hiring for six years and have seen the payoff firsthand. As a staffing agency, we place jobseekers of all backgrounds with local employers while taking on the costs and risk of onboarding. We then provide ongoing peer support to address barriers to employment and promote retention. In addition, many of our internal staff have lived experience with barriers, which has created an open, inclusive culture and promotes trust with jobseekers. As you begin your fair chance hiring journey, we encourage you to reach out to our experts for advice and support. 

Search Job Openings