Portrait of Keith Jones, who chairs our Strategic Advisory Board.

A message from our Chair, Keith Jones

I’m often asked: “Why do we need an Alliance and Employment Charter focused on people with criminal records?”

There are some fantastic voluntary sector organisations and brilliant businesses who do amazing things to support people with criminal records, and specifically for employing people with criminal records many beacon organisations go above and beyond to be truly inclusive, as well as representative of the customers they serve and the communities they are rooted within.

I’ve already been an Employment Advisory Board Chair for over two years as well as a regional chair, so I get to hear from multiple sources how things could be different, perhaps even better. How can we attract hundreds, if not thousands more employers to see the benefits of hiring and progressing people with criminal records? Collaboration is key of course, as is a willingness to look at both the problem and solution through a different lens. In my experience, employers are often open to the idea of bringing people with criminal records on board, but too often don’t know how. They are put off by:

  • The complexity involved with legislation.
  • Being unsure about how their brand reputation may be affected.
  • Worries about the impact of this recruitment on their culture and teams.
  • Caution around what policies and practices will need evolving.
  • Caution also about what safeguarding and duty of care considerations will need to be stitched together so that talented people can be given a fair chance within their organisations.
  • The costs associated with recruiting and progressing people with criminal records.

It’s a balancing act of perceived risks versus potential benefits; some commercial and some societal. And our solution to this conundrum and the opportunity it presents has been to:

  • Seek and act on feedback.
  • Explore and leverage technology-based solutions.
  • Search the world for what good practice looks like.
  • Dismantle the barriers to achieving a meaningful scale of adoption.
  • Create a community of practice across industry sectors.
  • Co-create an approach with employers that draws on lived experience.
  • Innovate, offering something new – positive disruption in a ‘noisy room’.

The Fair Chance Business Alliance is unifying organisations from all sectors to deploy collective employer action and remove barriers to those furthest from the workforce. Our Employment Charter (a UK first) has been modelled on successful forerunners like Disability Confident and the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme. It was constructed by referencing over 500 global data points and forged through a 12-month iterative process that involved employers, the voluntary sector, and those with lived experience. This means we can provide a common framework for all organisations (from SMEs to FTSE 100s) and across all sectors. Our 3-tier Charter will help them all to safely, successfully and sustainably recruit and progress people with criminal records. It will enable social mobility and create evidence-based social value. Purpose-led businesses can collaborate as forces for good, and talented people with criminal records can reimagine their futures as part of stable families and diverse communities.

On the 2nd of October we’ll Go Live with the resources for employers to have a consistent approach to recruiting and progressing people with criminal records. Over the next five years we hope to realise our shared ambition to have opened up 1.5m vacancies, helped at least 30,000 people into stable employment, or with career progression and facilitated £1.5bn in social value.

If you haven’t already joined our mission – what’s stopping you? 

Join our Fair Chance mission!

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