Navigating Misconceptions in Hiring Individuals with Criminal Records with Jeffrey Korzenik

November 13, 2023

When companies embrace inclusive hiring practices, they benefit from highly motivated and engaged employees.
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In this episode of the HR Mixtape podcast, host Shari Simpson interviews Jeff Korzenik, a chief economist and author, about the business case for hiring individuals with criminal records. They discuss the immediate benefits that companies are seeing when they adopt more inclusive hiring practices.

Three key takeaways:

  1. Hiring individuals with criminal records can help address the labor shortage and deliver highly motivated, engaged, and loyal employees, leading to increased profitability.
  2. One common misconception is painting this population with a broad brush. It's important to recognize that not all individuals with criminal records are the same, and partnering with community-based organizations can help identify potential fits for an enterprise.
  3. Onboarding and integrating employees with criminal records require understanding and appreciation for the challenges they may have faced, such as poverty and lack of basic skills. Creating a supportive culture and providing additional resources like life coaches can contribute to their success.

Jeff is Chief Investment Strategist for one of the nation’s largest banks, where he is responsible for the investment strategy and the allocation of over $40 billion in assets. For more than 30 years, he has been known in the investment management industry for the clarity and originality he brings to complex challenges. A regular guest on CNBC, Fox Business News, and Bloomberg TV, his insights into the economy, markets, manufacturing, and the workforce are frequently cited in the financial and business press.

Jeff’s writings on economics and public policy have been published in Barron’s, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, and other periodicals. He has testified on Capitol Hill as an expert witness on the use of commodity indexes by pensions and other institutional investors. A leading expert on private sector models and the re-employment of people with criminal records, Jeff is a sought-after public speaker; he has presented at the Detroit Economic Club, the Executives Club of Chicago, for Los Angeles County’s Fair Chance Hiring Initiative, and at national conferences of the American Bankers Association, the AICPA, SHRM and for numerous other organizations and universities around the country.

In 2020, Jeff was elected to the Council on Criminal Justice in recognition of his work on the intersection of the criminal justice system and the labor markets. With over fifty speaking engagements each year, Jeff is noted for his ability to distill complex topics to common sense and approachable arguments. Jeff is a graduate of Princeton University, with an A.B. in Economics and a Certificate of Proficiency in Near Eastern Studies. A passionate supporter of the arts, he serves as a Trustee for the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Chicago and as an Overseer of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem MA.


Shari Simpson

Senior Manager Thought Leadership

Jeffrey Korzenik

Chief Investment Strategist
Fifth Third Bank

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