Embracing people returning from incarceration into the workplace can have profound implications for your company’s brand resilience and asset utilization.
People within the tech industry and beyond are waking up to the racial and economic inequities in their communities. By hiring returning people, you can demonstrate responsible tech growth with a material commitment to your employees’ and users’ values.
It resonates with consumers’ innate value of fairness in second chances and economic self-sufficiency while disrupting the cycle of release, unemployment, and recidivism. Hiring people who were formerly incarcerated helps to reduce the economic inequities in communities of color that have been exacerbated by mass incarceration.
Addressing these societal issues in such a tangible way enables your company to exhibit a commitment to values beyond rhetoric—cultivating trust with consumers and building long-term brand resilience. Hiring formerly incarcerated people is not just the right thing to do from the eyes of a consumer—it can directly contribute to the success of your company.
Research has consistently shown that diverse workplaces outperform more homogenous workplaces. A recent McKinsey study finds that workplaces with the highest levels of gender diversity outperform workplaces with lowest levels of gender diversity by 25%. Workplaces with the highest levels of racial diversity outperform workplaces with the lowest levels of racial diversity by 36%.
In a study specific to the technology industry, Intel found that increasing racial diversity could increase revenue by $300-370 billion annually, and increasing gender diversity could increase revenue by $320-390 billion annually.
With 69% of returning residents identifying as Black or Hispanic, hiring from this labor pool will contribute to the technology industry’s racial diversity—a critical step for the technology workforce where Black employee representation sits in the low single digits in mega-cap companies like Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter.
Every year, tech companies must contend with a gap of almost 500,000 unfilled tech occupations. The lack of available workers drives up salaries and limits productivity, directly impacting profitability. With over 600,000 people released from prison every year, returning people could be an important source of talent to bridge this gap.
Returning people demonstrate high levels of dedication with strong employee performance. One study from Kellogg found employees with criminal records had a 13% lower turnover rate than employees who did not have a record; their high retention rates save on costs associated with employee turnover.
This is especially important given the increased length of time required to fill a technical role—from 66 days in 2016 to 80 days in 2019. When companies factor in hiring and onboarding, the length of time to fill a position increases to 100 days with each day, costing $680 in lost revenue.
Several types of governmental programs and financial incentives may be available to companies that employ formerly incarcerated people. These include the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, wage subsidies for on-the-job training, and various state-specific tax credits such as the New Employment Tax Credit in California.
Programs to bring in nontraditional talent are so important because we know that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not.