Two years on since the launch of the Ban the Box campaign, Business in the Community (BITC), who lead the campaign, have marked the anniversary by launching a free step-by-step guide to creating a fair recruitment process in dealing with criminal records.
We’ve endorsed the campaign since it launched in October 2013 in response to widespread discrimination against people with convictions, and have helped to support the campaign alongside others. So far, 50 employers with a combined workforce of over 400,000 have banned the tick box from their job applications forms and now assess candidates based on their skills first, not their past mistakes.
Despite the fact that employment can dramatically reduce re-offending rates and contribute to a safer society, three-quarters of employers use criminal convictions to discriminate against applicants – meaning that millions of job seekers are blocked from employment and the opportunity to put their past behind them. Employers also miss out on a large and diverse talent pool, often as a result of exaggerated fear or misconceptions.
To mark the campaign’s second anniversary, BITC has launched a free step-by-step guide. Featuring case studies from companies that have banned the box, as well as guidance on legal and contractual requirements, this is a useful starting place for any employer looking to provide employment opportunities for people with criminal convictions.
Alongside the guide, they’ve published interesting research which shows that prisoners consider the criminal record tick box to be a major barrier to employment, despite having qualifications and a strong desire to work. The research shows that while 9 in 10 prisoners surveyed want to find work after leaving prison, only a third of prisoners said they would definitely apply to a job with a tick box. Prisoners surveyed expressed concern and confusion over the tick box on application forms – some unaware of the legal obligation to disclose and many convinced they would not be given a chance to compete for jobs if they ticked the box.
The research shows that the criminal record tick box serves no purpose and it adds more weight behind why employers need to put an end to their archaic recruitment practices, taking steps to ensure they are clear and upfront about how they assess criminal convictions.
This anniversary gives fresh impetus to the campaign, which we’re promoting as part of our project to challenge employment discrimination. I urge you to take the time to read this guide and consider joining the growing number of responsible businesses that are opening up opportunities for people with convictions.