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Kelly Services gives job seekers with criminal records a second chance at work

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Kelly Services CEO Peter Quigley joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the staffing company's new partnership with Toyota Manufacturing in Kentucky, to help job seeks with non-violent criminal backgrounds receive work.

Video Transcript

- Well, July's JOLTS report, that is the job openings in the US, showed a near record 10.9 million jobs that are still open. And of course, we hiring has not been up to snuff, as evidenced by the Labor Department's jobs numbers. Our next guest is trying to help fix that issue, matching folks in the right jobs. Peter Quigley is the CEO of Kelly Services, the staffing company.

Peter, thanks for being here. One of the solutions that you all have come up with is trying to get people with minor criminal records back out into the workforce. And according to your numbers, there are quite a few people out there. 70 million, you say. Although, some of those folks most certainly are already working. But if we can get more of them out in the workforce, you say, that would help matters. How do you go about doing that?

PETER QUIGLEY: Well, thanks Julie. It's great to be with you. There is no doubt that we have a labor shortage. We're seeing it across all of our businesses. We're down back to pre-pandemic levels in terms of demand. Life sciences, education, e-tail and warehousing in particular. And the fact is employers can attract and retain more people if they would look to that often overlooked and untapped part of our labor market, which as you mentioned, is at 70 million Americans that have some form of blemish on their criminal record. That 70 million represents 33% of adult age Americans.

And so that's why we launched a program we call Kelly 33, which is designed to help companies figure out ways to tap into this very motivated and often overlooked part of our labor market. And it's not just talk. It actually works. One of the leading companies in this area is Toyota. We did a project with them. It's still ongoing, in Kentucky. And Toyota took a second chance initiative and was able to increase its talent pool by 20%, increase its diversity by almost 10%, and improved its retention by 70% because Julie, these second chance workers are thankful, they're reliable, and they're loyal.

BRIAN SOZZI: Peter, why does this continue to be an issue? What are employers not doing? Are they using outdated systems?

PETER QUIGLEY: The customers that we work with Brian, they're using outdated policies from, could be from the 1970s and 80s when a criminal conviction was an automatic disqualifier. The fact is that of those 33 million Americans, 95% of them are non-violent offenders and oftentimes, it's completely unrelated to a job they may be applying for. So what we do with our customers is we work with them to look at those policies. Try to figure out what we can do to create a pipeline of qualified talent that allows them to meet their talent needs.

And in the Toyota example, by the way, I should have mentioned that not one of the employees that we've placed at Toyota has been terminated because of behavior related to their criminal conviction.

- And Peter, just to be a little more granular with this, how do you determine what's a violent, nonviolent offense? What's the sort of criteria that you're using here?

PETER QUIGLEY: Yeah, we have a very detailed rubric that we use to analyze the criminal conduct, as well as the qualifications for the job. There are legal standards that get applied to make sure that the offense is either related or not related to the job at hand. And it's an exhaustive process and nobody should be concerned that this is not a process that's stood the test of time. We have decades of using this matrix to analyze the employees and the job. And we've nearly perfected it over those many years and customers find it very attractive when they undertake the review.

- And Peter, I want to broaden it out a little bit because we keep hearing from economists, September should be, could be, the time when we start to see job numbers really tick up again. Kids are back in school so parents perhaps are a little bit more free to look for work. We've got the supplemental benefits that are now gone in pretty much all of the states, I believe. But obviously, you've got eyes on the ground, right? You really see what's happening. So do you think we will get that uptick?

PETER QUIGLEY: Well, I think it's optimistic, to be candid. The fact is that there are a lot of open jobs but there are not a lot of jobs open that people want. The fact is that talent priorities have changed in the last 18 months and our research shows that one in five employers don't really know what an employee is looking for in the post-COVID environment. Our research also shows in our workforce agility report, that the best employers, those that outperform their peers in terms of revenue growth, understand that it's as much about the employee experience as it is the customer experience.

So they spend a lot of time on what their employee value proposition is, working on things like workforce and workplace and work time and work style, to recognize that it's not just wages. It's about creating an inclusive and diverse work environment. It's about creating career advancement and training opportunities. It's about job stability. Those are all things that today's employers-- employees are looking for and employers that pay attention to those will reap the benefits.

BRIAN SOZZI: And Peter, the administration's proposal of a vaccine mandate for employees, how disruptive a policy would that be to the labor market recovery/

PETER QUIGLEY: Well, I think any mandate, any requirement is going to cause some level of disruption. But the fact is that as long as the guidelines are clear and employers know what their obligations are, we can work with it. And I think we will benefit from the clarity in the regulations and some guidance from the government on exactly what we're being asked to do.