As a national leader in employment screening, PeopleFacts’ professionals closely monitor the trends and changes that affect our industry.
Most recently, one of the most noteworthy changes in the area of employment screening is the rapidly growing movement among American businesses to rethink whether potential new employees should be asked about any past criminal convictions prior to being offered a new position.
In an age when very few issues can be said to have bipartisan support, the movement toward removing questions about past criminal history on job application forms has united both the political left and right; libertarians, as well as liberal leaders, are both voicing support for the idea of removing the questions about past criminal records, as a method of allowing and encouraging former criminals to move on with their lives as upright citizens.
Approximately 100 cities and counties have already adopted a “ban the box” concept, an effort to remove the ‘check boxes’ on job application forms asking applicants if they have any criminal record.
In San Francisco, a measure called the “Fair Chance Ordinance” is part of that national effort; meanwhile, the governors of Virginia and Vermont have also signed executive orders implementing similar measures this year.
Charles Koch, renowned conservative business leader and Chief Executive Officer of Koch Industries, has also joined the chorus of those calling for “banning the box” and has, in fact, banned questions about criminal pasts from job applications for positions with any Koch-owned company.
Given that Koch Industries employs over 60,000 Americans, it is not insignificant when the company’s CEO speaks passionately against asking job applicants about their criminal history. In arguing against asking applicants about their criminal past, Charles Koch has posed the question “if ex-offenders can’t get a job, education or housing, how can we possibly expect them to have a productive life?”
Federally, the government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has endorsed removing questions about past convictions from job applications; in addition, President Obama’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper Task Force’ has also endorsed hiring practices that promote the idea of hiring applicants on the basis of their merits, not criminal past.
It’s rare, indeed, to find a coalition that includes the Obama Administration, Charles Koch, 16 state governments (with a geographic range that includes California in the west, to Illinois in the Midwest, and New Jersey and Connecticut on the east coast) as well as 100 other cities and counties.
But the growing national consensus, spanning across both the political and geographic circle, does indeed appear to be toward ‘banning the box’ on job application forms asking about criminal past.
It’s vital for all employers to stay abreast of this important employment issue, as it has the potential to directly affect their hiring practices now, and in the future.