Survey Reveals Americans Want Employers To End Discrimination Against Job Seekers With Criminal Backgrounds; Kelly CEO Encourages Companies To Act

Vast majority say they are more likely to support businesses that remove barriers to employment

TROY, Mich., April 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Seven in 10 Americans say employers should eliminate blanket-bans that automatically reject job seekers with minor, non-violent criminal offenses on their record, according to a Kelly survey conducted as part of National Second Chance Month.

Kelly today revealed the national survey findings that show Americans want companies to end discriminatory hiring practices and policies. The research is part of Kelly’s ongoing Equity@Work initiative designed to identify and remove systemic and rarely challenged barriers to work for millions of Americans.

“Nearly one in three Americans now have a criminal history of some kind, and many are non-violent offenders unable to access work because of unjust blanket-bans companies have in place,” said Kelly President and CEO Peter Quigley. “We discourage these blanket-bans and have changed our internal hiring practices to move to individualized reviews in order to provide fulltime employment opportunities to second-chance candidates. We’re collaborating with leading companies to do the same and encourage others to make more second chances possible, as well.”

Kelly’s Equity@Work survey of adults in the U.S. shows strong support for second-chance initiatives:

  • 64% of Americans say non-violent mistakes made in the past should not automatically disqualify a person from being able to find employment.

  • 71% agree employers should eliminate or reduce blanket-bans that automatically reject job seekers with minor, non-violent criminal offenses.

  • 76% are more likely to support businesses committed to breaking down discriminatory barriers that prevent Americans from finding employment.

  • 81% say companies should do more to remove discriminatory hiring policies or practices that keep people from being hired or promoted.

  • 90% say access to employment is important to have a good quality of life in America.

"Second chances are not just good for people, they are good for business and our national economy,” said Quigley. “The non-integration of those with a criminal history costs the U.S. nearly $80 billion annually. When we knock this barrier down, companies will significantly increase their talent pool, reduce turnover rates, improve diversity, equity and inclusion, and ultimately save money.”

Last year, Kelly also updated its policy around minor drug offenses – specifically marijuana convictions – to provide people with low-level criminal offenses greater access to work within the company. Kelly is also using technology across its job posting language to facilitate equitable and inclusive terminology.

“Our national economy needs strong labor market participation,” said Quigley. “Expanding employment opportunities for the nearly 77 million Americans with a criminal record, enables companies to better meet demand, grow and thrive. It’s not just the right thing, it’s the smart thing to do.”

Equity@Work Survey Methodology
The survey was conducted online by Atomik Research. 1,010 adults in the U.S. completed the survey between Feb. 8 and 12, 2021. The overall margin of error fell within +/- 3 percentage points with a confidence interval of 95%. Researchers implemented sample quotas based on gender identity, geographical regions, age groups and ethnicity in order to reflect similar statistically representative ratios based on U.S. Census reports.

About Kelly®
Kelly connects talented people to companies in need of their skills in areas including Science, Engineering, Education, Office, Contact Center, Light Industrial, and more. We’re always thinking about what’s next in the evolving world of work, and we help people ditch the script on old ways of thinking and embrace the value of all workstyles in the workplace. We directly employ nearly 370,000 people around the world, and we connect thousands more with work through our global network of talent suppliers and partners in our outsourcing and consulting practice. Visit and let us help with what’s next for you.

Media Contacts:  

Jane Stehney

Christian Taske