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Ban the Box - FM Firms Help Offender Discrimination Fight

15 October 2014 | Updated 01 January 1970

'Employers have an exaggerated fear of employing ex-offenders' says Business in the Community' but  25 employers with a combined workforce of 200,000 have banned the criminal conviction ‘tick box’ from application forms in the first year of the organisation’s 'Ban the Box' campaign in the UK - and there are some FM names amongst them.

Business in the Community claims much more to be done to make fair consideration of criminal convictions the norm. They claim that if 5% of UK private sector employers followed the lead of the pioneering few, over a million roles would be made accessible. The charity is calling on more UK employers cut discrimination against job-seeking ex-offenders.


Cutting the £11 billion annual cost of reoffending

The 25 employers, currently involved in the scheme have allowed ex-offenders to compete for roles based on an assessment of their skills first. These employers, who come from a range of sectors, now benefit from a wider pool of talent while also contributing towards reducing the estimated £11 billion annual cost of reoffending.

Yet Business in the Community says too few employers are taking action to make their workforces accessible to the 1 in 5 unemployed jobseekers with a criminal conviction due to exaggerated fear, misunderstanding of legal requirements surrounding conviction disclosure and the belief that the tick box helps to prevent risk to the organisation and employees.

“Business has a huge opportunity and responsibility to make the workplace more accessible to talented ex-offenders that simply want to contribute their skills to society” said Catherine Sermon, Employment Director, Business in the Community. “Yet too many companies have an exaggerated fear of recruiting people with criminal convictions and a misconception that employing them is risky business.

“Removing the tick box doesn’t remove disclosure. It simply moves asking about convictions to later in the recruitment process – assessing candidates on their suitability, skills and ability first. If just 5% of UK private sector employers removed the tick box, over a million roles would be more accessible to ex-offenders. We are urging many more employers to join the 25 pioneering firms who have committed to Ban the Box this year.”


Carillion' Michael - All I needed was a chance

Michael who has criminal convictions and is now employed by construction and support services firm Carillion as a team leader, said: “People with criminal convictions face so many hurdles. Removing the tick box from application forms takes one of those hurdles away. It gives people the incentive and motivation that they can get a job because their application will be considered on its strengths. Employers with the tick box are shutting the door to some people with the skills, motivation and potential to be great employees but who have made mistakes in the past. My employer Carillion has been so supportive. All I needed was a chance to show what I could do and I’ve been given that. I’m keen to keep progressing and want to stay here long-term. Businesses that Ban the Box really will benefit as much as people like me.”

Janet Dawson, HR Director at Carillion plc said: “It is so important to maintain a steady flow of skilled, engaged people into our workforce and promote opportunities within our business to a wider pool of talent.  Not having a criminal record tick box is one of the ways we meet this aim. Of course we want to monitor and manage the recruitment of people with criminal convictions, but we also want to show through our recruitment process that we give opportunities to different groups of people that bring alternative views and perspectives into the workplace. We’re proud to be one of the pioneering companies to adopt Ban the Box.”


Business in the Community is calling for employers to:

Remove the tick box requesting information on unspent criminal convictions from online and paper job application processes.

Examine recruitment policies and practices to identify how disclosure of criminal convictions can be moved further down the application process. Best practice examples available at

Publically declare their commitment to offering fair opportunities for ex-offenders to compete for jobs by registering as a Ban the Box employer at

It is not calling for any changes to the checks and processes that are legally required when recruiting for 'regulated' roles as defined by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), such as jobs with children or vulnerable adults.

Following their early adoption of Ban the Box, global law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP has committed to support the growth and development of the campaign in its second year in order to inform and inspire more employers.


Employers signed up to Ban the Box UK:

Alliance Boots


Bain & Company

Business in the Community

Carillion plc

Destria Partners

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

Interserve Support Services


J M Scully

Land Securities

Leo Burnett

Liverpool Vision

Matrix APA


NBC Bird and Pest Solutions


Roast Restaurants

Second Chance Project

Serenity Services

Shekinah Mission

SiteVisibility Marketing Ltd

Southbank Centre

True Story


Walking with the Wounded

Article written by Brian Shillibeer | Published 15 October 2014


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