There are a number of organisations, such as those featured in our Directory, that can help you manage the process and the perceived risk associated with recruiting ex-offenders.
Many other charities, including Working Chance, Blue Sky and the St Giles Trust support the rehabilitation of ex-offenders and can give employers support and guidance when working with ex-offenders.
As with recruitment, there are charities, such as Nacro, which provide free expert advice to help employers considering equal opportunity interviewing of those with a criminal record. There are also a number of guidance documents and toolkits available on the BiTC website which offer practical step-by-step guides.
In a recent study carried out by Business in the Community, the 134 organisation that took part recorded positive experience with ex-offenders and 86% say that they settle into work well with colleagues and 82% say they perform well.
When employing an ex-offender, any social organisation through which you recruited your new employee will likely have a team of caseworkers who will be able to offer in-work support relating to the individual.
From a recruitment policy perspective, internal buy-in is key to success. As demonstrated by Timpson, Boots and other ex-offender friendly employers, convincing board members and HR teams is a wholly achievable goal. There is a large, and ever-growing, body of evidence to draw upon when explaining both the social and the business case for not excluding ex-offenders from your workforce; communicating this effectively is crucial.
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.
As more employers recognise the advantages of having fully inclusive recruitment policies, networks of 'friendly' employers are developing.
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.