Employers urged to end ‘costly’ discrimination against ex-offenders

Business in the Community’s ‘Ban the Box’ campaign calls on an end to compulsory tick boxes on application forms to declare any criminal past.

Employers must abandon “archaic recruitment practices” that discriminate against those with a criminal record, according to Business in the Community (BITC).

BITC launched its Ban the Box campaign in the UK in October 2013. The aim is to encourage employers to remove the compulsory tick box forcing candidates to declare any previous criminal convictions at the start of the process.

So far 50 employers, including Boots and Barclays, have removed the box from their application forms.

New research carried out by BITC this week suggests having the compulsory question in place is putting people off trying to gain employment for fear of being automatically rejected.

10m people in the UK have a criminal record and 75% of employers admit to discriminating against a candidate because of a previous conviction.

But the appetite to work among prisoners is high – with 91% saying they wish to find employment upon their release. And employment has been shown to decrease re-offending rates by up to 50.

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BITC campaign manager Faye Goldman said that many prisoners “perceive the tick box to be a major barrier, despite having qualifications and a desire to work”.

“Feedback showed that many of the prisoners want be open and honest with employers but don’t feel confident they would be given a fair chance if they were,” she continued.

“It doesn’t matter whether employers ask about criminal convictions at shortlisting stage, interview, or later so long as it’s not the first thing they know about a candidate.

Goldman added that by showing openness to considering candidates with convictions, businesses can benefit from a diverse talent pool as well as making “informed hiring decisions, since candidates will feel they can be open about their past”.

Global technology company Ricoh is one of the businesses to sign up to the campaign. Future talent manager Tony Hay said the company was “committed to supporting ex-offenders with the necessary skills back into work”.

“We do this by being clear and upfront about how we review criminal convictions, having a risk management process that works for us, and assessing each individual on a case-by-case basis,” he continued.

“Our experience so far has been very positive and we now have some model employees who are putting their mistakes behind them and making a success of their careers.”

Further reading: Interviewers turn off job candidates

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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