“We did background checks–I don’t know how I missed it,” Hookway says. But Coley was a good worker and trustworthy; Hookway didn’t want to fire him. So he didn’t. Today, Coley is a manager at CleanCraft. “I’ve got around 50 stories like that,” Hookway says. Over the course of his time running his company, he’s found that giving jobs to people with barriers to employment like a criminal record, a practice often called fair hiring or second-chance hiring, has proven to be good for his business.
In general, he says, when people like Coley come on the job, they work hard, knowing that in labor landscape that overwhelmingly turns its back on ex-offenders–just 12.5% of employers say they will accept applications from someone with a record–they’ve found a fortunate situation. Soon, the lines between workers with a criminal record and those without blur.