Workforce solutions provider launches Kelly 33 after a successful partnership with Toyota Manufacturing in Kentucky, involving candidates with criminal records being eligible for hire

TROY, Mich. (September 16, 2021) – It’s a staggering statistic: One in three working-age Americans – more than 70 million people – have some type of criminal record. Most of them are non-violent offenders unable to access quality employment because of outdated background screening practices companies have in place. These blanket bans deprive Americans who are motivated to work of opportunity and economic mobility, and they make it harder for businesses in need of skilled workers to fill open positions. Today, Kelly®, a global workforce solutions leader, is announcing a program that tackles this issue head on.

Kelly 33 connects talented job seekers who have a non-violent, non-relevant criminal background with employers in need of their skills. The program gives hiring managers access to undiscovered talent looking for a second chance. It is being launched after a successful partnership with Toyota Manufacturing in Georgetown, Kentucky, involving candidates with criminal records being eligible for hire.

“We’re proud to launch Kelly 33 to expand employment opportunities for many of the nearly 33% of Americans with a criminal history and to help companies better meet their talent acquisition goals,” Kelly President and CEO Peter Quigley says. “Our partnership with Toyota highlights how giving individuals a second chance is not only a good thing to do but is also good for business.”

Kelly conducts individualized screenings of candidates’ criminal background records, consistent with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Green Factors, which look at job-relatedness and how criminal conduct is related to a specific position, when placing candidates at Toyota. As of today, Kelly has evaluated 1,242 candidates with a criminal record for potential assignments at Toyota, 92% of whom are eligible for placement. More than half of those candidates – 645 job seekers – accepted Kelly’s offer for placement at Toyota.

As a result of Kelly’s individualized assessment of candidate criminal history, hundreds of candidates were successfully placed at Toyota, resulting in Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant increasing its talent pool by 20%, reducing its turnover rate by 70% to an all-time monthly low of 3%, and increasing its overall diversity rate by 8%, which ranks among the top companies in the Central Kentucky region.

“This collaboration has been a tremendous success from both a business and community engagement perspective,” says Keilon Ratliff, vice president and head of Kelly’s automotive business. “Not one second chance worker placed at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant has been terminated for behavior that correlated to their criminal history, which is sometimes a bias that prevents companies from hiring or accepting candidates with criminal records. We now fill positions quicker and people across the community applaud Toyota’s commitment to equity.”

Ratliff, who conceptualized Kelly 33 to bring similar initiatives to clients across the country, is a firm believer that access to work is the biggest driver for justice and equality in America. He has personally witnessed how difficult it can be for individuals with a criminal record to break free from a cycle of poverty and crime without access to work, and he tells that story in this video.

  • A recent Kelly survey shows that the vast majority of Americans share Ratliff’s sentiments:
  • 71% agree employers should eliminate or reduce blanket-bans that automatically reject job seekers with minor, non-violent criminal offenses.
  • 76% say they are more likely to support a business committed to breaking down discriminatory barriers that prevent Americans from finding employment.


81% say companies should do more to remove discriminatory hiring policies or practices that keep people from being hired or promoted.

Kelly 33 is being launched less than a year after Kelly introduced its Equity@Work initiative, which aims to knock down unjust barriers that disqualify millions of Americans from employment at a time when businesses are struggling to fill open positions. Kelly changed its own hiring practices and encourages other companies to expand second chance opportunities, open doors to work for neurodiverse talent and job seekers on the autism spectrum, end the ubiquity of four-year degree requirements when other credentials may suffice, and address outdated workplace policies that disproportionally impact marginalized groups.

“We are committed to creating paths to employment for everyone, including those who face unjust barriers to work, and we invite like-minded companies, policy groups and institutions to join us in knocking down those barriers so more people can thrive,” Quigley says. “Kelly 33 and our work with Toyota prove that this is not just the right thing, it’s the smart thing to do.”

About Kelly®
Kelly (Nasdaq: KELYA, KELYB) connects talented people to companies in need of their skills in areas including Science, Engineering, Education, Office, Contact Center, Light Industrial, and more. We’re always thinking about what’s next in the evolving world of work, and we help people ditch the script on old ways of thinking and embrace the value of all workstyles in the workplace. We directly employ nearly 370,000 people around the world and connect thousands more with work through our global network of talent suppliers and partners in our outsourcing and consulting practice. Visit kellyservices.com and let us help with what’s next for you.