Inequities in the hiring of women with criminal records
There is persistent employment discrimination in the hiring of U.S. citizens with criminal records and even greater inequities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. The current research aimed to investigate and explain disproportionate and unjust employment outcomes for women with criminal records. It also aimed to discover processes that accounted for racial inequities in employment outcomes for Black women with and without a criminal record. In two studies, the current research investigated how race of applicant and criminal background influenced employability. Taking a novel approach, it was hypothesized that a virtue derived process like forgiveness would influence racial inequities in the hiring of women with criminal records, such that for the same former offenses white applicants were predicted to receive compassion and reconciliation while Black applicants would receive persecution and reprisal. Moreover, people’s propensity to dehumanize marginalized outgroups and to uphold the inequitable status quo were examined as possible explanations for inequities in forgiveness outcomes for formerly incarcerated citizens. Taken together, findings from Study 1 (N = 294) and Study 2 (N = 448) showed that job applicants with a criminal record received poorer employment outcomes– such as lower starting salary recommendations– than applicants without a criminal record (ps < .001). Forgiveness was found to be positively associated with employment outcomes for applicants with criminal records, such that higher perceptions of forgiveness of applicants and their former offense was related to better employment outcomes. Contrary to hypotheses and previous evidence of prevailing racial inequities in hiring, there were no differences in outcomes between the Black and white applicant with criminal records (Studies 1 and 2). There were, however, differences between the Black and white applicants and the control condition (unidentified race and gender), demonstrating poorer employment outcomes when the identity of the applicant is unknown. Lastly, there was some evidence that dehumanization and system justification independently were adversely associated with forgiveness and employability. The findings of this research are discussed within the contexts of how more research investigation, theory advancement, gender-responsive program development, and restorative justice intervention implementation are critical to addressing inequities in employment outcomes for women with criminal records and BIPOC women.