As Maggie Hulce, executive vice president and general manager for enterprise at Indeed, said during her keynote speech at the Indeed FutureWorks 2022 conference, companies that are still omitting salary ranges on job postings or insisting candidates have a college degree or zero resume gaps “are missing out on skilled and diverse talent.” 

The 21st century workforce is evolving dramatically — both in terms of lived experiences and workplace expectations — and that was a recurring theme at Indeed’s flagship thought leadership conference, held October 12 and 13 at the Javits Center in New York City. Thousands of attendees across a range of business functions, and from more than 10 countries, engaged with sessions (available in person and virtually) that broached the future of work and its impact on the talent landscape.

Those who attended FutureWorks in person were able to experience these themes on a different level. Throughout the venue, three interactive installations prompted attendees to think deeply about a slate of urgent recruitment issues: fair chance hiring, pay transparency and talent shortages. Here’s how Indeed brought these complex concepts to life — and how attendees reacted to them.

Portraits with Perspective: “I Am Not My Past”

Along a broad, glass-sided hallway, attendees walked past seven, 10-foot-square portraits of people representing the 70 million job seekers in the U.S. who have criminal records. That’s nearly one in three Americans. By scanning QR codes next to each portrait, attendees could watch videos of the subjects telling moving stories about their professional lives. Three examples:

  • Larry Miller was incarcerated for armed robbery but obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting; he later became a Nike executive. 
  • David Zavala was incarcerated just before starting college. He earned his HVAC license in prison; he now hopes to gain more experience so he can support his family. “I’m not my past,” Zavala said. “I’m a good, hard worker.” 
  • Missy Turner is a formerly incarcerated woman with a disability who, despite having a college degree, still struggles to find a job.

Formerly incarcerated people face a 27% unemployment rate. This is higher than the total U.S. unemployment rate at any time in history, including the Great Depression. Yet 75% of human resources professionals believe individuals with criminal records are just as, or even more, dependable than individuals without criminal records. Additionally, a recent report from Indeed and Kickstand showed that employees actively want to work at companies with fair chance hiring practices.

Image shows two women taking photos of the displays at the Futureworks event. Displays feature individuals with the caption "I am not my..." with a QR code to scan to learn more.
“This is so powerful for someone with a disability,” said Jenny Cotie Kangas, director of talent acquisition at Pandologic. “The world needs to hear more of these types of stories.”

Coming off the heels of President Joe Biden pardoning thousands of people convicted of marijuana possession, the installation underscored that job seekers can move beyond their past, and that employers need to consider more than someone’s criminal justice record. 

“Many employers are like, ‘Oh, we should avoid them, or we have a rule so we can’t hire them, or we have to explore the context of their conviction,’” said Walter Avis, recruiting coordinator at The Carmelite System, after watching one of the video testimonials. “It makes you rethink long-held biases against people with convictions on their record.”

There are barriers to breaking barriers, of course. In the gaming industry, states have certain licensing requirements for employment. “If you can’t get approved for a license, we can’t hire you,” said Kimberly Peleaz, regional director of talent acquisition at MGM Resorts. “It’s something we’re reevaluating. We need success stories like the ones here at FutureWorks to share with the regulatory industry.”

“This is the moment to rebuild work for everyone,” said LaFawn Davis, senior vice president of environmental, social and governance (ESG) at Indeed, during her session titled “No Job Seeker Left Behind.” She said that only when barriers like criminal records are removed will candidates — and companies — be able to truly thrive. 

Equal Pay Cafe: “Be Transparent”

Attendees jonesing for a caffeine fix at FutureWorks made a choice before accepting their brew: Did they want a white, lavender or blue cup sleeve? Each featured a provocative question about pay transparency.

- “Does talking about salary make you feel like you’re in hot water?” 

- “Does your company post salary ranges on job searches? Spill the tea.” 

- “On a scale of water to coffee, how transparent is your company about pay?” 

This often-innocuous beverage accessory sparked discussion around a historically taboo topic that companies must now confront: Indeed research shows that 75% of applicants are more likely to apply for a job if the posting lists the salary range. 

“My company is very transparent,” said Carrie Wallace, a talent acquisition manager at Infosys. “Our jobs are based on experience and skill, and we keep competitive salaries. On the hiring side, posting salaries weeds out people quickly.”

The Equal Pay Cafe also prompted conversations around gender pay equity. Women in the U.S. still earn roughly 82 cents for every dollar men earn. “As a female, I want to make sure I have equal pay to my male colleagues,” said Liz Mercado, vice president of operations at Custom Staffing Incorporated, as she drank her cappuccino. “If a company says we are a family, prove it. Be transparent.” 

Image shows a takeaway coffee cup with a light blue, cardboard sleeve that has the question, "Does your company post salary ranges on job postings? Spill the tea." printed on it.
“Today, candidates have more market control, and they demand it,” said David Dresser, a delivery manager at Custom Staffing Incorporated. “We have to post salary ranges or candidates won’t apply. Some clients were apprehensive at first, but we are advocating for it.”

Recent state laws have mandated varying levels of pay transparency. And employer sentiment toward pay transparency is now largely favorable, as research from Indeed shows. Since 2018, Indeed has moved toward pay transparency by posting pay ranges for its own openings. 

“We have committed to being transparent, and it started with Indeed’s push for it,” said Emily Sauder, market recruiter at Select Medical. “We are seeing a better candidate experience because, when the facts are in front of them, it makes for quicker decisions and they are more likely to have a great employment outcome. Happy employees stay at their jobs longer. That’s good for us — and it all starts with the application process.”

Expand Your Talent Pool: “We Can’t Pretend Everyone Has a Perfect Background”

Near the TeamWorks area of the venue stood a small stage swimming with LED-projected koi. As attendees stepped onto the platform, which represented today’s talent “pool,” only a few fish swam beneath their feet. Moving to a particular spot removed common restrictive hiring filters  —  a college education, a spotless background check, a resume with no gaps in employment history  —  and filled the pond with more fish, scales shimmering. 

“I personally don’t ask about gaps in resumes, especially since the pandemic, when a lot of people stopped working for personal reasons,” said Michael Juta, recruiter at Tata Consultancy Services, after stepping off of the platform. “It’s been a hard time, but we have been going through it all together, and we have to recognize that.”

Julie Kemper, a social media manager, was surprised at how many Americans have a criminal record. “It says a lot about being naive and what people have gone through. We can’t pretend everyone has a perfect background. We need to adapt because it’s a big chunk of our community.”

Image shows a banner from Futureworks that says "The future of work is equitable. This means screening in (not screening out) under appreciated, untapped talent."
“I want to try and get jobs for people with a criminal history,” said Javier Lopez, a sourcer at DoorDash. “A lot of times, we have to sidestep because of that, but with Indeed’s support, it will be a big step forward. I’m looking more at transferable skill sets that are not based on someone’s resume.” Javier Lopez, Sourcer, DoorDash

What does an employer lose by adhering to strict hiring requirements? Nine out of 10 people have a gap in their employment history and roughly two-thirds of the U.S. workforce don’t have a bachelor’s degree. That's a lot of people who could be immediately excluded from a talent pool.

“We hire people without degrees or who have criminal records,” says Julian Lumpkin, founder of SuccessKit. “From a societal perspective, it’s important not to remove people from the job market. I don’t want to lose good talent due to something that doesn’t affect the job at hand.”

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