New research from charity Working Chance into hiring managers’ attitudes towards people with criminal convictions has revealed that almost twice as many employers (45%) would, hypothetically, recruit someone with a conviction compared to 25% in 2010.
But the research found that while attitudes are changing, there is still a long way to go to break one of the few remaining seemingly acceptable employer prejudices.
The charity commissioned nfpResearch to conduct market research with 1000 employers across a broad range of industries to find out how attitudes towards hiring people with convictions have changed since previous research conducted in 2010 (by Working Links) and 2016 (commissioned by the Department of Work and Pensions).
The new report ‘Progress & Prejudice: Shifts in UK employer attitudes towards people with convictions’ shows that since 2010, the number of employers who knowingly recruit people with convictions has doubled.
While the figures seem to show an improvement in the number of employers recruiting people with convictions, 30% of the hiring managers surveyed said they would automatically exclude a candidate who disclosed a criminal conviction, despite the fact that only 15% said it was their company’s policy to reject applicants with convictions.
“One in six adults in the UK has a criminal record, which means that a lot of great candidates are being overlooked by hiring managers who are making decisions based on personal prejudice rather than judging people fairly and objectively,” said Natasha Finlayson, Chief Executive at Working Chance. “This is counterproductive in the face of chronic labour shortages driven by Brexit and the pandemic – employers should be more open-minded now than they’ve ever been if they want their businesses to thrive.”
Although employment has been proven as one of the surest ways to reduce reoffending, the employers surveyed who said they would not hire someone with a conviction cited the ‘risk of reoffending’ as one of their biggest concerns.
Our research has shown that people with convictions make dedicated employees with 91% of those surveyed who have recruited people with convictions saying the employee settled in well with colleagues.
“Despite evidence to the contrary, many employers consider people with convictions to be the ‘riskiest’ group of people to recruit from. When compared to other groups considered to be distanced from the labour market, people with convictions face the lowest interview to hire conversion rate. However, our research has shown that people with convictions make dedicated employees with 91% of those surveyed who have recruited people with convictions saying the employee settled in well with colleagues, and 81% saying they proved to be loyal members of staff,” said Finlayson.
Overall, it was found that when it comes to hiring people with convictions, many employers were more concerned with the perceived risks to their business, than the actual offences themselves, and that with more knowledge and education, many more organisations could be open to exploring a more inclusive and diverse workforce.
A lot more needs to be done to change the hearts and minds of employers when it comes to hiring people with convictions.
“This research has shown us that a lot more needs to be done to change the hearts and minds of employers when it comes to hiring people with convictions. Early next year we’ll be launching a new comprehensive guide for employers about why and how to bring these people into their workforce, which we hope will help to level the playing field for people who really need to be given a chance to turn their life around,” added Finlayson.
For more information and a copy of the report setting out the key findings of the market research, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 07985 475457
Note to Editors:
Working Chance is a national charity that works to support women with convictions into employment, www.workingchance.org