“I believe the biggest take away from the presentation was the power our generation has to administer change,” said Kelley student Ryan Lattimore, BS’17. “Discrimination and unfair treatment of ex-felons is nothing new, and our generation has the best opportunity to push this movement across the nation. Our young HR and management professionals are the future of how business is conducted, and there is no better time to give these men and women the equal opportunity they deserve."

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RecycleForce employee works in Indianapolis.

“I believe the most surprising piece of information presented was the overall success RecycleForce has had hiring and developing ex-felons. There is a preconceived notion in the hiring world that anyone with a criminal background is someone you don't want working for you. RecycleForce, however, has started a movement by taking medium- to high-risk felons and employing them. The company has basically disproved the bias that ex-felons don't make good workers,” added Lattimore. “Many of these men and women are actively seeking jobs; however, they are not being considered fairly. Of course, there may be a few bad apples in every batch, but the vast majority of these ex-felons see improvement and development when working with RecycleForce. Many companies are passing up qualified workers based on a criminal history that doesn't affect job performance.”

“I didn’t know how hard it is for those with felonies to get a job, nor did I know about the transitional jobs that are available,” said Robert Jackson, BS’16.

The most important takeaway, for me, was that in HR you can’t go in with a closed-minded attitude.

Robert Jackson, BS'16

“For the most part, everyone does deserve a second chance—because we are all human and make mistakes," said Jackson.

“This will help me because I’m not a narrow-minded person, but this will stick in the back of my mind. It will be a constant reminder to always keep my eyes open and remember that good talent deserves to receive chances, regardless of their backgrounds (for the most part),” he added.

MaryEllen Mascia is a graduating senior, who currently serves in the Indiana Air National Guard, splitting her time between school, the military, and full-time work. Mascia works right now as a human resources coordinator.

“I thought the most important take away from the presentation was the idea of switching the mindset of employers,” said Mascia. “I loved the idea that Mr. Keesling talked about, using employment to make social change. By slowly changing habits of employers, it will work to lower the stigma that ‘people with records’ face when they are joining society again.

“The idea that ‘people with records’ continue to face discrimination and defeat after release is so sad. The sentences that these individuals were given should be the time that is required to pay for what they did, but in essence, we are continuing that sentence beyond what is required. That is unfair, and what Mr. Keesling and Dr. Porter are doing is a step toward making big changes. To be honest, this is not something I have thought a lot about, but it has made me aware. And that is the first step in making a change in yourself and ultimately impacting others.

“Getting ‘people with records’ back to work while building their confidence and life skills is making a huge impact on these individuals’ lives. It is proven in the recidivism rates for individuals who work at RecycleForce. This program seems to make a huge impact in these individuals’ lives, and as some of the quotes Dr. Porter shared, it may be saving their lives as well,” she added.

“This will definitely impact what I do in the future and has changed my perspective (for the better!),” said Mascia. “Using a job-based mindset and pushing conviction questions off until later in the process will allow those people the same opportunities as others. I think it is important to have a published policy in place that guides the people making hiring decisions. It takes away the bias that someone may experience when they have to say, ‘Yes, I do have a record.’ The formal policy should clearly outline what is accepted and what is not, removing those judgments people make without taking the job duties into consideration.”

“I believe this presentation was extremely valuable for our young group of HR and management professionals,” said Lattimore. “After listening, I realized the sheer amount of power I do have to make a difference in HR selection. Whether it’s convincing an HR department to ban the box, or to disclose information about criminal background after an offer is made, we as young professionals can continue the movement to end discrimination among this class of people. This presentation has definitely changed the way I look at recruiting and strategic hiring. I now have a great understanding of how misinterpreted these ex-felons are among recruiters. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. It is only fair to give these qualified ex-felons a second chance, because many of them have the potential to create value for companies and become a contributing member to society.

“I think it is also important to realize that many HR professionals do not intentionally discriminate against ex-felons,” Lattimore added. “This discrimination can sometimes occur without the recruiter intending to do so. I believe it is important to make the HR world aware of this issue and also address the many bias that are out there. By addressing these issues, we can ensure that those seeking employment are judged on an even playing field.”