We are delighted to publish this article kindly provided by Faye Goldman, Campaign Manager at Business in the Community, highlighting the tricky subject of supporting those with convictions into employment. Here Business in the Community outline the compelling argument on why this makes sense for individuals and society in general:
Ban the Box: the fair approach to recruitment
For the 10 million people in the UK with a criminal record, filling out a job application form can be a daunting process. Faced with having to tick a box to declare their previous convictions, many people will choose to exclude themselves from the opportunity, assuming they will be automatically rejected.
As a result of the tick box, employers are missing out on a huge talent pool. But it has implications for the rest of society too. Having a job is a crucial part of the rehabilitation process for many ex-offenders, with studies showing it can reduce the chances of re-offending by up to 50%. When you consider that re-offending costs the taxpayer £11 billion a year – not to mention the impact on the victims of crime – it’s in everyone’s best interest to reduce the barriers to work for people with criminal convictions.
Our Ban the Box campaign aims to do just that. Launched in October 2013, the campaign calls on UK employers to remove the tick box from job application forms, and ask about convictions later in the recruitment process. But the campaign is about more than just the tick box – Ban the Box requires a strong cultural shift away from assuming criminal convictions pose an automatic risk, towards a willingness to see beyond an ex-offender’s past mistakes.
It’s also important that employers are clear and upfront about how they assess criminal convictions by publicising their support for the campaign. A recent survey we conducted amongst prisoners at HMP Nottingham, shows that where candidates fear their criminal record could jeopardise their chances, many are not to disclose at all.
A recruitment process that causes confusion and concern is of no benefit to the employer or applicant; while one that encourages positive and open disclosure allows employers to make an informed hiring decision based on who’s right for the job.
Our success to date
In just two years, more than 50 companies have signed up to Ban the Box, and committed to giving ex-offenders a fair chance to compete for jobs. These include large corporates from a wide range of sectors such as Boots, Freshfields, Barclays and Sodexo, as well as small businesses and charities. Together these organisations employ almost 400,000 people – meaning that ex-offenders can now compete fairly for a significant number of roles across the UK.
More and more businesses are starting to see the benefits of a fair and open recruitment policy, but fears and misconceptions about employing people with criminal convictions are still commonplace. Using our new How to Ban the Box Guide, which draws on the experience of the 50+ organisations signed up to the campaign, we hope to be able to bust some of the myths about criminal records and encourage more companies to adopt an enlightened approach to recruitment.