Why we decided to #banthebox
Finally after years of cajoling and avoidance on my part – this is the first in what should become a series of blogs from me, as part of Change Grow Live (CGL) and our work within the areas of recovery, resilience and rehabilitation. We’ve existed as the Sussex Association for the Rehabilitation of Offenders since the early 1970s and as CRI since 2000 – working hard to help people maximise their potential, contribute to their communities and for many, to break away from criminal activity.
It’s complicated work in which staff and volunteers have to navigate ever more complex systems and policies. But there are many things that have remained constant over the years; people have a better chance of being rehabilitated or of recovering from drug or alcohol use if they have access to decent housing, meaningful work and supportive peer groups.
Change Grow Live employ around 2,500 people and at a last staff survey some 20% described themselves as having personal experience as service users. Over 1,000 extra people give their time to the organisation as volunteers or peer mentors. We have always valued the input, passion and contributions of ‘experts through experience’ within Change Grow Live – almost as second nature.
So now we have decided to publicly endorse the #banthebox campaign and have removed the requirement for people seeking to work for us to disclose any convictions on their application forms. No recruitment panels will see this information until such time as someone is being made a conditional job offer.
We believe that asking for conviction information at application stage can only serve to increase stigma and may potentially dissuade people from applying for positions. And actually - do we have a right to know this level of personal information about people with whom we may never have a relationship?
#banthebox means that all applicants are judged purely on their experience, qualifications, values and content of their application forms.
At the point of being made a conditional job offer relevant checks are made about health, ability to work within the UK, any conviction history that may preclude employment and references are taken up.
Is our decision to #banthebox radical? No. Will it make a massive difference to the range of people employed by us? Probably not. Will it make people feel more confident in applying for jobs with us? Hopefully. Is it the right thing to do? Absolutely.
And doing the right thing is usually as good a reason as any to do something.