Kier: Supporting people with convictions into employment - Business in the Community

Kier: Supporting people with convictions into employment

Kier joined BITC’s Ban the Box campaign to help provide practical support to help people with criminal convictions get into employment.

Since 2013, Kier has been running its Making Ground programme, aimed at providing practical support for people with convictions wanting to get back into employment. This six-week placement gave participants the necessary skills required for re-entering the world of work through CV writing workshops, formal interviews, and work experience. The initiative highlighted the impact Kier could be making as an organisation if it opened employment opportunities to people with criminal convictions. Wanting to do more to help people with convictions, Kier worked with Business in the Community (BITC) to become a Ban the Box signatory in 2016.

To build the case for Ban the Box internally, Kier arranged for senior leaders to visit a prison. They were impressed with the highly capable and motivated individuals that they met and accepted that becoming a Ban the Box employer was right for their organisation.

We’ve benefitted from hardworking, resilient employees and our company as a whole has benefitted from having a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Kim Thomson, Recruitment diversity manager

Advice to prospective employers

Recruitment diversity manager, Kim Thomson, emphasises the starting point for businesses should be understanding why they are asking about previous convictions in the first place and whether the risks of asking outweigh benefits of not asking. “Ban the Box doesn’t mean that you don’t ask about convictions at all,” explains Kim, “but rather that you don’t adopt a blanket restriction and only ask when necessary. At Kier, we ask at offer stage but only for roles that require a DBS or security check, and when we do ask, we take the time to understand the individual circumstances so that we can make an informed decision about whether that person is right for the organisation.”

Whatever approach a business takes, it’s crucial that you are transparent with applicants so they know if, and when, you will ask about convictions.

“Becoming a Ban the Box employer has been a really positive experience for Kier,” says Kim. “We’ve benefitted from hardworking, resilient employees and our company as a whole has benefitted from having a more diverse and inclusive workforce.”

Utilising BITC’s expertise

For Kier, BITC has been a trusted partner to go to for advice and support without fear of judgement. The criminal justice system is difficult to navigate for an employer on the outside who does not understand its processes, so the expertise of BITC was an integral part of optimising Kier’s inclusive employment strategy. BITC also provided a collaborative platform to connect Kier with other employers who are planning on banning the box or those who have already done so, allowing them to share knowledge and experience with those in a similar position.