Fair Chance Hiring: Shifting from Background Check Compliance to Talent Strategy

2018 Employment Law & Legislative Conference
Gain an understanding of how to update your hiring process so that all applicants, including those with criminal records, have a fair chance to put their skills to work for you … and protect your organization in the process!

You’ve likely heard the statistics on the high number of Americans with criminal records and are aware of the national “ban-the-box” movement designed to prevent discrimination against these job applicants. But do you really know how to leverage this untapped talent pool while at the same time protecting your company from negligent hiring and discrimination lawsuits? In this session, we will cut through the rhetoric to provide tangible information on the “whys” and “hows” of hiring individuals with criminal records. In this session, you will:

  • Learn how to analyze criminal records to reduce bias, while at the same time meeting your compliance obligations, when making hiring decisions.
  • Be introduced to a model decision-making process.
  • Identify action steps to apply in your unique organization.
  • Learn tips on selecting a background check provider.


Date(s) & Time(s): 
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 9:15am to 10:45am

Elizabeth Speck


Elizabeth Speck is the founder and principal of MindOpen Learning Strategies, a training, consulting, and coaching firm that helps people and organizations learn new ways to work in order to better serve social justice. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Development from Fielding Graduate University and an M.A. in Drama Therapy from New York University, and is a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist. She uses her unique background to create truly engaging, transformative adult learning experiences that lead to measurable business results and social impact.

 Elizabeth has helped thousands of employees work better together over her 25-year career as a trainer, consultant, manager, and direct service professional in settings including prisons, jails, hospitals, shelters, schools, and universities. Prior to founding MindOpen, Elizabeth most recently led large-scale organizational and systemic change efforts as Chief Learning Officer for the Workforce Professionals Training Institute in New York City, and Senior Training Director for Safe Horizon, the nation's largest victim assistance organization. 

Elizabeth's doctoral research studied the workforce entry and advancement experiences of formerly incarcerated professionals, and identified unique strengths that this diverse population brings to the workplace. She is currently a Social Innovation Fellow with both the StartingBloc Institute and the Institute for Social Innovation at Fielding Graduate University. Learn more at www.mindopenlearning.com

Toney Earl, Jr.

Earl, Jr.

Toney Earl, Jr. is the Founder and Executive Director of M.A.D.E. Transitional Services, and his passion is deeply rooted in the creation of this organization. Having witnessed firsthand the difficulties of the transition process with limited agencies equipped to assist the formerly-incarcerated population in the lower Hudson Valley area of New York, Toney identified an area of need and formed M.A.D.E. Transitional Services.

Today, M.A.D.E. provides assistance to individuals across the New York City area and in northern New Jersey who are reentering their communities after incarceration. M.A.D.E.’s pre and post-incarceration services include job-readiness, job-placement, intra-correctional facility programs, transitional housing and career integration. As part of M.A.D.E.’s advocacy work, Toney serves as M.A.D.E.’s spokesperson on reentry and at-risk youth issues. He has joined several panels where he discussed the benefits of employing the formerly incarcerated, workforce inclusion, reentry challenges and solutions, reentry policy, and other social justice and restorative justice issues concerning the formerly incarcerated. In partnership with MindOpen Learning Strategies, M.A.D.E. facilitates a Fair Chance Hiring curriculum to educate business leaders and talent professionals on best practices for fair chance hiring and retaining non-traditional candidates including those with criminal backgrounds.

Toney was appointed a Social Justice Fellow as part of the inaugural Beyond the Bars Justice Leadership Fellowship 2014-2015 cohort at Columbia University’s Center for Justice in New York City. This Ivy League, interdisciplinary leadership program brings together a diverse group of fellows to enhance leadership in social justice work, while uncovering the causes and consequences of mass incarceration. He now serves as
Co-Chair and Engagement Lead of the Reentry Accelerated Program (REAP) Business Association at the Tamer Center of Social Enterprise at Columbia University’s Business School where he helps REAP foster collaboration between academia, nonprofits, government, and the private sector to develop innovative solutions for expanding workforce inclusion for the formerly incarcerated and individuals with a criminal record.

Toney Earl, Jr. is an Offender Workforce Development Specialist (OWDS), certified by the New York State Department of Criminal Justice. He attended Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania where he studied business administration and is a certified professional coach.

Toney has been
recognized by New York Nonprofit Media as one of 40 under 40 rising nonprofit leaders in New York City making an impact in nonprofit work and named one of 50 People to Know by New York’s WCBS 880.

Location: Congressional B
Amount of Credit: 
Credit Type: 
Session Type: 
Concurrent Session
HR Expertise
Ethical Practice
Business Acumen
Intended Audience: 
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