Recruit With Conviction endorses Business in the Community’s Ban the Box campaign. Find out more: bitc.org.uk/banthebox and #BantheBoxUK’
We are proud to have been part of Ban the Box from conception and to be part of a alliance with a number of organisations. Business in the Community are now taking the lead in presenting this to their members and networks.
The Directors of Recruit With Conviction are inspired by many people with convictions who have a great aptitude and attitude for work. They have battled shame and stigma because of their history which is commonly mixed with deprivation, desperation and victimisation. So often, their desires are simple; to “be normal” or to lay more constructive social footprints by working, paying tax and contributing to wider society.
Each person is unique with different family situations, motivations and emotions; however a criminal record is the most stigmatising stereotype. Their talent and abilities make them the right person for so many advertised jobs – yet employers often struggle to deal with disclosure of criminal convictions in a professional manner.
Asking people to disclosure too early can put people off applying altogether and can force individuals on to the black economy and crime . Employers should be transparent about the way they deal with disclosure.
Continued unemployment or underemployment is an unjust consequence lasting years beyond the sentence of the court and for many people it’s an immovable object on their path from prison. However, continuing criminal careers is an avenue which is always available. Starting work and stopping crime is not an easy option.
Promoting safe and effective recruitment of people with convictions is the primary goal of Recruit With Conviction and our model of dealing with disclosure supports employers to match the right person for the right job regardless of unrelated criminal convictions. Human Resource specialists tell us that when recruiters are trained to understand their bias towards the criminal record stereotype, then they also become much more aware of their wider bias on the grounds of gender, race or disability and become better recruiters all round.
Good recruitment processes present an opportunity to compete for jobs by removing some barriers before interview. The criminal record tick box on a job application form has absolutely no value without context.
Employers should implement the following:
1. Consider conviction relevance separately from the applicant’s qualities for the job.
2. Delay asking for disclosure of convictions until the interview invitation or firewall the disclosure information until then.
3. Ask for disclosure in a format which helps them understand the relevance and context of the crime and the potential changes the candidates have made.
If more people with convictions are invited to interview, then more of them will be able to put convictions into context and present any positive changes that they have made to their lives.
The process does allow employers to deselect the candidate before interview if the criminal record is very relevant, so that interviews are not meaningless or tokenistic. However the interview is an opportunity for recruiters to look beyond the label and see a human being with talent, energy and also frailties.
Ban the box should not start and end with a policy and procedure. Recruiters need trained to feel empowered and authorised to recruit with conviction.