In April 2015, integrated property services and project delivery specialist Styles&Wood became the 37th member of Ban the Box, the Business in the Community (BITC) initiative aimed at creating fair opportunities for ex-offenders.  Launched this year, the campaign encourages employers to remove the tick box from their application forms and ask about criminal convictions later on in the recruitment process.

Styles&Wood have been working with BITC since 2007 and have subscribed to a number of BITC initiatives and campaigns aimed at creating a more sustainable future for communities, as well as helping the business itself, as Karen Morley, HR Director, explains:

Around 42% of construction companies struggle to recruit employees with the right skills and with a well publicised skills gap, we can’t simply exclude 17% of the UK population from the recruitment process on the basis that they have a criminal record.”  

“It’s understood that finding stable employment is a contributing factor to the successful rehabilitation of ex offenders, so employers must step up and accept their role in the process.  The box is much more than a tick on a page; it’s a permanent reminder and for many, a challenging hurdle to overcome.  We need to ban the box, then employers can focus on an individual’s skills and experience as opposed to a tick on page.”

“Not only does the Ban the Box campaign have the potential to deliver societal and community benefits, it could potentially unlock a pool of work ready, skilled and talented people.”

Research suggests that three-quarters of employers discriminate against applicants who have a criminal conviction but when employers ban the box, they allow the candidate’s skills and abilities to shine through.  By having better access to work ex-offenders can contribute to society, effectively lowering crime levels in our communities.

Faye Goldman from BITC said: “As a responsible employer, you can choose to make your jobs accessible to people with convictions. One of the simplest ways to do this is to remove the criminal record tick box.  When this blunt tool is used, not only do many employers exclude potential applicants but applicants also exclude themselves – put off from applying because they don’t think they’ll have a chance.”

“Surely you want the best person for the job?  That person could have a criminal record. Make your recruitment decisions based on their skills and suitability for a role, before discussing the background to their criminal record and the possible risk and relevance to your business.  No criminal record or individual’s experience is the same – don’t reduce ten million people to a data request.”

For more information around Ban the Box please click on the links below:

http://www.bitc.org.uk/programmes/ban-box

http://www.bitc.org.uk/blog/post/why-today-good-day-ten-million-people

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