Fair Chances Coalition Building More Equitable Hiring Practices and Better Businesses

Nearly 4 million Canadians have a criminal record. For far too many people, a record results in a lifetime of stigma that limits their participation in the economy and ability to build a productive future.

The John Howard Society of Ontario has long pushed for more humane and inclusive hiring practices. In December 2021, it partnered with the City of Toronto and Prince’s Trust Canada to launch the Fair Chances Coalition to catalyze a movement of cross-sector Canadian employers, HR professionals, recruitment-related businesses, and non-profits committed to examining and addressing their hiring practices to reduce barriers for job applicants with a criminal record.

The goal of the Fair Chances Coalition is to encourage and support Canadian organizations to adopt Fair Chance Hiring — a range of hiring policies, best practices, and training that enable employers to fairly assess candidates.

As a result of systemic bias, Black and Indigenous people are vastly overrepresented in the criminal justice system and particularly impacted by the stigma, stereotypes, and long-held misconceptions about hiring those with criminal records. Over the last two years, COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of equity, inclusivity, and making sure that everybody has opportunity and access to thrive and succeed.

Canadians are on board. A 2020 survey showed that more than 80% of Canadians across demographics strongly support employers giving people with criminal records a fair chance. Years of U.S. research has also shown that employees with criminal records have lower turnover, equal or higher performance, equal or lower recruitment cost, and no increased risk of misconduct.

The four founding partners of the Fair Chances Coalition are the City of Toronto, Prince’s Trust Canada, First Work, and Building Up. Learn more about how your organization can join the Fair Chances Coalition or get involved at fairchances.ca.