4 Million Canadians with Criminal Records Offer Untapped Talent for Businesses

4 Million Canadians with Criminal Records Offer Untapped Talent for Businesses

Emily O’Brien’s journey from the confines of a prison cell to the chief executive officer of Comeback Snacks is a story of personal triumph and a testament to an often-ignored truth. In Canadian business circles, individuals like O’Brien, who carry the weight of a criminal record, are frequently overlooked, their potential untapped due to prevailing biases and misconceptions.

The Current Landscape

Despite possessing the necessary skills and experience, many Canadians with a criminal past find doors to employment unjustly closed. A revealing report, backed by interviews with 400 hiring managers, casts a stark light on this issue.

Spearheaded by the John Howard Society of Ontario, the study unveils a discomforting reality: a significant portion of Canadian companies conduct criminal record checks and, in many instances, disqualify candidates based on their past, disregarding the relevance or antiquity of the offense.

Challenges and Misconceptions

The reluctance to hire individuals with a criminal background is rooted deeply in stereotypes and unfounded fears. Safiyah Husein, a senior policy analyst with the John Howard Society, points out the flawed narrative that associates past criminal justice involvement with a lack of trustworthiness or an increased risk of misconduct at the workplace.

Contrary to these beliefs, research from various jurisdictions indicates that these individuals are often more loyal, displaying lower job turnover and no greater risk of workplace incidents than their counterparts without a criminal record.

The Call for Change

The report doesn’t just highlight problems but also champions solutions. It calls for crucial changes in federal and provincial policies, advocating for the adoption of fair chance hiring practices. Such policies would involve deferring criminal record checks until a conditional job offer is made and then assessing the relevance of the record to the job role, ensuring a more equitable and just hiring process.

Personal Triumphs and Company Practices

O’Brien’s Comeback Snacks is a beacon of what is possible when businesses choose to look beyond a criminal record. Despite the challenges she faced, including a conviction for smuggling narcotics, O’Brien focused on harnessing the untapped potential she saw in her peers during her time in prison.

Her company, although small, has made significant strides, hiring part-time workers for events and festivals, many of whom have navigated the justice system. Their reliability and dedication have only reaffirmed O’Brien’s belief in giving individuals a second chance.

The narrative surrounding employment for individuals with criminal records in Canada is ripe for change. As the report suggests and as trailblazers like Emily O’Brien demonstrate, integrating this untapped talent pool can not only fill the evident job vacancies but also foster a more inclusive, diverse, and productive workforce. It’s time for more companies to recognize the potential that lies within Canada’s 4 million individuals with a criminal past and to embrace the policies that allow this potential to flourish.

Source: https://ici.radio-canada.ca/rci/en/news/2045907/criminal-records-canada-hiring-fair-chance