As this year’s college graduates prepare to enter the workforce, nearly three in four Americans say they are more likely to seek employment with companies that are committed to breaking down discriminatory hiring practices, according to an annual survey conducted by staffing and workforce solutions provider Kelly.
The firm’s latest Equity@Work survey that show Americans want companies to provide greater access to work for underemployed talent groups including job seekers with criminal backgrounds, those on the autism spectrum, veterans, older workers, and women. More than 4 in 5 (83 percent) agree employers should do more to remove barriers that keep job seekers in these talent groups from being hired or promoted.
“Companies are in desperate need of skilled talent. At the same time, millions of qualified job seekers face significant barriers to employment,” says Kelly vice president and Equity@Work program manager Pam Sands, in a news release. “It’s time employers provide fairer access to work for these talent groups. Our survey results indicate it will have a positive impact on their ability to identify skilled workers across the board.”
Nearly 33 percent of working-age Americans have a criminal offense on their record that often disqualifies them from finding employment. The unemployment rate among adults on the autism spectrum is around 85 percent. Veterans without four-year degrees often struggle to find civilian employment. Older job seekers can find it challenging to transition careers and there are nearly two million fewer women in the labor force due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kelly, which places 350,000 job seekers every year, launched its Equity@Work initiative in 2020 to remove systemic employment barriers for these Americans. Its survey of 1,020 adults in the U.S. shows companies can benefit from hiring policies that embrace these talent groups:
- 76 percent of Americans say they are more likely to support businesses committed to breaking down barriers to work.
- 72 percent say they are more likely to seek employment with companies committed to eliminating these barriers.
- 80 percent say employers should value the relevant skills military veterans have acquired and factor them into hiring decisions.
- 71 percent say they are more likely to support businesses that make employment opportunities available to individuals on the autism spectrum.
- 70 percent say employers should eliminate or reduce blanket-bans that automatically reject job seekers who have minor, non-violent offenses on their criminal record.
- 62 percent agree that women forced out of the workforce due to the pandemic face reduced earning potential and advancement opportunities when they return to work.
- More than half of Americans (52 percent) say Baby Boomers face issues of ageism at work.
“The message is loud and clear: Americans expect companies to do better,” Sands says. “Recruiting from these underrepresented talent groups is not just the right thing to do, it’s good business.”
The survey was conducted online by Atomik Research. 1,020 adults in the U.S. completed the survey between Feb. 15 and 21, 2022. The overall margin of error fell within +/- 3 percentage points with a confidence interval of 95 percent. Researchers implemented sample quotas based on gender identity, geographical regions, age groups and ethnicity to reflect similar statistically representative ratios based on U.S. Census reports.