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Almost 90,000 people are in UK prisons at any one time and one in five of us has a criminal conviction - but it can be an uphill struggle to convince other employees it makes sense to help ex-offenders into employment.


November's InsideOut - the FREE magazine for IoIC members - talks to office equipment giants Ricoh and the people behind the Ban The Box campaign.

As the future talent manager with Ricoh, it is Tony Hay’s job to find the best employees for the office equipment giants.

In recent months his search has taken him into prisons – partly because there’s a wealth of talent among inmates and partly because the company’s forward-thinking policy realises that jobs can help rehabilitate offenders.

“We could miss a lot of talent if we disregard people with a criminal conviction,” he says. “That’s a big section of society we could potentially use.

“Also, reoffending costs the UK £11billion a year,” he points out. “It’s right and proper for responsible organisations to try and reduce that.

Ricoh is one of the first UK companies to back the Ban The Box campaign, which urges employers to omit the tick-box on job application forms which asks if the applicant has had a criminal conviction.

They declare it later, but only after they’ve had a chance to show their character, qualifications and suitability for the job. The idea is to give ex-offenders a fair chance rather than just binning their application right at the start

“The original idea came from America,” explains Tony. “They started to see that they were excluding lots of employee talent from businesses, so they decided to judge each application on its merits.”

It was introduced into the UK by Business In the Community (BITC) and was championed by Boots board director Marco Pagni. It is now backed by more than 50 companies including Amey, Barclays, Carillion and Sodexo.

Tony (pictured left) tells InsideOut how Ricoh has used a 'sensitive cascade' to convince existing workers that it's a good idea to employ people with a criminal conviction.

Noevmber's edition also speaks to Faye Goldman, campaign manager at Ban The Box, who explains: “When you say criminal conviction, everyone jumps to the serious end. But only a small percentage of people with criminal convictions will have been to prison, and one in five of us – that’s 10 million people - has a conviction.”

The campaign has been running for two years and she says: “It’s not just about a process, it’s about culture change and recognising talent among the many people with criminal convictions.”

Also, in November's InsideOut:

former IoIC chairman Paul Brasington explains why he wrote a new guide on tone of voice (which is available to download for Institute members)
  • head of IC at the Bank of England Sian Jones talks about how to fight the erosion of trust among employees
  • author Sarah Lloyd-Hughes offers six tips on how to make messages more memorable, and
  • international rail consultancy Interfleet comes under the Sector Spotlight.

Members should log in at the top right of this screen. You’ll then find InsideOut in ‘IoIC Knows’– simply click on ‘Publications’ in the drop-down menu.
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