Why Employers Should Ban the Box
As of today, 33 states and over 150 cities and counties in the U.S. have adopted “ban the box” laws. If you don’t already know, “ban the box” initiatives refer to eliminating the checkbox on job applications that asks whether a candidate has a criminal history or has been convicted of a felony. These public policies may seem anti-employer on the surface, but they are actually a stride in the right direction when it comes to fair hiring measures and improving the operation of businesses! Here are three crucial reasons your company should implement this practice:
1. The Box Discriminates Against People of Color
“Over the past 30 years, incarceration in the United States has increased 500 percent so that it is now the world leader with 2.2 million people in the nation’s prisons and jails.” And 60% of the prison population is made up of people of color. By requiring all of your job applicants to answer a question about their criminal history, and subsequently eliminating them from consideration, you are participating in the systematic racial discrimination that is so prevalent in our country.
2. It Will Help The Formerly Incarcerated Re-Integrate Into Society
A 2011 study by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia of the formerly incarcerated found that employment was the most important influence on decreasing recidivism. According to the National Employment Law Project, while having a job doesn’t guarantee that a formerly incarcerated person won’t re-offend, unemployment strains crucial family and financial support, providing reasons and opportunities to return to illegal behaviors. If we want to help people stay out of prison, we have to give them jobs to sustain themselves and their families!
Reliable income gives people the freedom to make better choices. But, if we count them out before we even begin interviewing for a position, they’ll be pushed to continue the cycle of illegality that got them here in the first place. If we truly believe in rehabilitation, we need to remove bias from the hiring process and give people a chance to better themselves and their communities.
3. It’s Good For The Economy
The same 2011 study by the ELGP concluded that re-employing 100 formerly incarcerated people would increase their lifetime earnings by $55 million, their income tax contributions by $1.9 million, and boost sales tax revenues by $770,000, all while saving more than $2 million annually by keeping them out of the criminal justice system. Putting and keeping people in prison is prohibitively expensive for our country, but preventing the formerly incarcerated from obtaining gainful employment due to discrimination is keeping our country from having more contributions to the economy and tax system and alleviating the burden of the criminal justice system on society.
You can’t argue with facts. Hiring discrimination is costing minorities, local communities, employers, and society at large. It’s time that private and public employers alike join forces and ban the box to promote fair hiring policy. This country was built on the idea that people deserve second chances, and that should absolutely apply to those with a criminal history who are trying to improve their lives through gainful employment.
Abby Yetter is the CEO and Chief Consultant of Bright Ideas Small Business Solutions, LLC. She is a driven, enthusiastic businesswoman, with a talent for organizing the chaotic, and branding the unfamed. Abby strives to use her creativity, and experience, to solve the many problems of small businesses. With a background based in customer service management, social media, technological organization, sales, marketing, and customer experience specialties, she enjoys taking everyday complications, and finding the newest, most productive ways to execute the tasks.All stories by: Abby Yetter