One million roles open to jobseekers with criminal convictions through Ban the Box campaign

Today Business in the Community – The Prince’s Responsible Business Network – announced that its Ban the Box campaign has reached a key milestone; by getting businesses to make a small change to their recruitment practices employers have collectively opened up over 1 million roles to jobseekers with criminal convictions, giving them a fair chance at securing a position which suits their skills.

Set up in 2013, Ban the Box urges businesses to remove the criminal convictions tick box from their application forms, although businesses can still ask about convictions later in the process if appropriate. Seven years on, 150 employers – including banks, law firms and supermarket chains – are helping the 11.7 million people in the UK with criminal convictions to apply for work without fear that ticking a box will lead to discrimination.

This small action has a big impact on the UK economy. Reoffending is costing taxpayers, businesses and communities £18.1 billion annually (Ministry of Justice, 2019). But when those with criminal convictions are in work, they are 34% less likely to reoffend.

Meanwhile, banning the box works for business too. 35% of Ban the Box employers believe that being part of the campaign has solved skills shortages in their businesses, a third shared that being part of this initiative has helped retain or win new contracts and 74% found that commitment to the campaign has benefited their reputation (BITC, 2021). In contrast, skills shortages are costing UK employers an estimated £6.6 billion a year on temporary staffing, recruitment fees and inflated salaries (People Management, 2020).

Nicola Inge, Employment and Skills Director at Business in the Community (BITC), commented:

“The 150 companies who have stepped up to Ban the Box understand that finding your next recruit isn’t about ticking a box, it’s about considering people with the right skills and experience, and not judging them on past mistakes. Those companies which haven’t banned the box could be locking themselves out of a talent pool totalling 11.7 million people in the UK. These people could diversify the workforce and provide a huge return on a company’s investment – but they need to be given a second chance.”

Minister for Prisons and Probation, Lucy Frazer said:

“There are few better ways to reduce reoffending than getting former offenders into work and the Government has been leading by example on this. In the Civil Service, we have banned the box from all but the most sensitive roles and I’d urge all employers to follow suit. You will be helping shape a nation with less crime and fewer victims while giving these men and women a second chance.” 

A jobseeker who benefited from Ban the Box said: “A lot of companies judge you by what you’ve done before even looking at what qualifications you have or what you can bring to the company. With Tideway, they don’t look at that. They just treat you like a normal human being.”

Another anonymous beneficiary added

“My offence happened because of complicated personal circumstances and there’s never space to explain on an application form. I have applied for so many jobs and never heard back. I know my qualifications are good, so I know that it’s because I’ve had to tick the box. When I applied for my current job, I really appreciated the fact that I was not asked about criminal convictions straight away.”

Louise Fitzgerald-Lombard, UK Head of HR at BNP Paribas, one of the latest businesses to sign up to the campaign, commented:

“In this situation, the right thing also happens to be the best thing for our bottom line. Diversity and inclusion underpins our long term business success and as the bank for a changing world we’re proud to support those looking to change their lives for the better.”

Ends

Media Contact  

Erin Johnson, Press Officer, Business in the Community     

Email: erin.johnson@bitc.org.uk Phone: 0771 310 1878 

About Ban the Box 

Begun in October 2013, Ban the Box started as a campaign to help people overcome disadvantage by increasing access to good, sustainable employment. Removing the tick box does not prevent employers from asking later in the recruitment process about any past criminal offences, and it has enabled candidates to apply for jobs on the basis of their skills and experience rather than being excluded for a past mistake.

In the 2021 Business in the Community (BITC) report on the impact of Ban the Box, 43 survey respondents across 24 sectors shared the improvements hiring people with criminal convictions made to their organisations, including filling skills shortages and increasing the diversity of their workforce. 

Read One Million Jobs Later: The impact of Ban the Box on the BITC website

Interested companies can sign up to Ban the Box on the BITC website

One million roles opened up is calculated on the basis of the number of UK roles within a business at the point of their sign-up to the campaign.

About Business in the Community

Business in the Community is the oldest and largest business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business. We were created nearly 40 years ago by HRH The Prince of Wales to champion responsible business.  We inspire, engage and challenge members and we mobilise that collective strength as a force for good in society to:    

  • Develop a skilled and inclusive workforce for today and tomorrow  
  • Build thriving communities where people want to live and work  
  • Innovate to sustain and repair our planet.  

 www.bitc.org.uk