Q: How do they compare?
Look beyond the stereotype and you will find a loyal, hard-working and fully engaged employee, who is just right for your organisation. Adding diversity to your workforce not only provides financial benefits, but also demonstrates Equal Opportunity in action and shows your commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, significantly contributing to reducing reoffending.
Q: Won't it damage the company image?
That said, many companies who employ ex-offenders and chose to publicise it say that it has a positive impact on their reputation. Marks & Spencer report that hiring ex-offenders has increased both morale and motivation in their staff, who say they are proud to work for an organisation offering people a second chance to get back on track. In a poll by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 65% of organisations who promote the employment of ex-offenders say that it has had a positive effect on their company image. Promoting that your business stands for fairness, equality and community cohesion can generate positive media coverage.
Q: Are they likely to reoffend?
97% of offenders express a desire to cease offending and given a chance, many people with convictions go on to live happy and fulfilling lives, contributing to their communities.
When you put your faith in a person with convictions you give them a renewed sense of self-respect. Employment restores dignity and offers an opportunity to provide for themselves and their family, decreasing dependency on benefits and social housing. Sustainable employment makes people less likely to relapse into old patterns of destructive behaviour and breaks the cycle of offending.
In fact, a CIPD survey showed that employers reported that reoffending when in employment was very rare. With only 8 instances of reoffending reported by a total of 144 HR professionals who have knowingly employed ex-offenders, this underlies the contribution getting a job can make to reducing reoffending.
Q: Who has done this before?
Indeed, the ‘Ban the Box‘ campaign, which calls on employers to create fair opportunities for competition by removing the tick box for a criminal record from application forms, currently has 74 participating employers. This number includes, amongst others, the entire Civil Service and International Law Firm Freshfields, with a further 35 companies actively exploring the implementation of Ban the Box within their workforce. Click here for a full list.
Q: Is there financial support available?
Q: What kinds of offence?
The BiTC’s practical guide for employers, ‘Fair recruitment of people with criminal convictions‘, provides useful information on the legal, regulatory and contractual implications of employing someone with a criminal record. Hiring ex-offenders is not about preferential treatment or positive discrimination. It is about hiring the best possible person for any give role within your organisation. Whether or not that person has a criminal conviction will be completely irrelevant in the vast majority of cases.
Q: Are they trustworthy?
Q: How do I get people with technical skills?
Q: How do I get people with soft skills?
Q: Will they have living support?
There are also a number of charities and social organisations which offer housing support for ex-offenders at risk of homelessness. St Martin in the Fields, for example, offers one-off grants to those in need of help putting together a deposit for a more permanent home. Whilst Vision Housing, which has contracts with eleven local authorities and the London Probation Trust, provides ongoing support and helps people find decent homes in the private rented sector upon release.
Q: Who can help me with the recruiting process?
Q: Can I get guidance for interviewing?
Q: Will it cause problems amongst my staff?
Q: I need ongoing in-work support
Q: How can I convince my team/board/HR?:
Research shows that organising a visit to a prison, allowing people to meet ex-offenders and understand for themselves the value that they can bring to the business to be one of the most effective methods of achieving company buy-in. BiTC runs a ‘Seeing is Believing‘ programme of visits for senior leaders which has been particularly successful. Additionally, many charitable organisations, such as BounceBack Project or Working Chance, working with ex-offenders, deliver presentations to companies who are considering adopting equal opportunity policies.
From an individual perspective, however, it is not obligatory to share your new employee’s criminal history with other members of the team unless there are issues with safeguarding. As an employer, in discussion with your employee, you are free to decide that protecting privacy and offering a clean slate is the most appropriate form of action.
Q: Is there a support group/network of employers?
The Reducing Re-offending through Employment Network, for example, was established in 2012 by Walgreen Boots Alliance to increase the opportunities available for ex-offenders to move into sustainable employment. Originally made up of companies in the Walgreens Boots Alliance supply chain, the peer network is now open to any business with an interest in reducing re-offending through employment. Through the Network, employers are able to access best practice examples of business action and gain support and guidance from other members as well as access to resources and dedicated events.
Another fast-growing network is the membership organisation: Employers’ Forum for Reducing Re-offending. As part of their membership regulations they have to agree to supply data regarding the number of people with convictions that they employ and also commit to support the wider recruitment of people with convictions.