Ban the Box - Pros and Cons
Many job applications contain a checkbox with a question about criminal history. Often, when this box is checked, qualified applicants are rejected at this step prior to the interview. The stigma of a record negatively contributes to recidivism, and unproductive reentry of citizens into society. President Obama met with members of the business community to encourage them to participate in “The Fair Chance Business Pledge” this past April 2016. In this voluntary initiative, the Department of Justice has spelled out measures to ultimately reduce recidivism and help formerly incarcerated individuals meaningfully integrate back into their communities.
Hawaii was the first state to adopt “Ban the Box” legislation in 1998. To date, there are 24 states that have adopted these policies and 9 states that have "banned the box" on job applications. "Fair chance” policies and ban the box legislation spans jurisdictions covering half the population of the USA. Advocates hail "fair chance" employment laws as important steps in policy reform, requiring employers to consider job-relatedness of a conviction, time passed, and mitigating circumstances/rehabilitation.
Two recent prominent university studies indicate there are negative ramifications developing with its implementation. Some hiring managers have begun eliminating applicants based on their race (racial profiling). This speaks to deeply ingrained biases and societal problems with race, and an incarceration system that houses a disproportionate number of minorities. Solutions to address hiring a qualified candidate encompass diversity training, analysis of hiring practices (including writing sound job descriptions and ensuring your company is up to date on jurisdictional laws), and asking good questions once an interview is being conducted.
“The Fair Chance Business Pledge” promotes fair hiring practices:
• “Ban the Box” from job applications. Ask questions about criminal history during interviews.
• Train HR staff how to make consistent decisions for applicants with a criminal history.
• Ensure internships and job training programs are available to people with criminal records.
• Host a Fair Chance Job Fair.
• Hire a reliable FCRA compliant background investigations company to be your Proactive Truth