Integrated Security Services, Inc., New York

Ban the Box, Not the Background Check

16 Jun

Alex France/flickr Alex France/flickr

The state of Georgia has now “banned the box” on job applications — the box that asks candidates if they are convicted felons. While a clear sign of good faith, this decision gives employers all the more reason to perform background checks on their prospective candidates, at least if they want to ensure that they hire safe and productive employees.

Bloomberg reports how, at a recent conference focused on improving the criminal justice system, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal revealed that his state has “effectively banned the box.” This term, “the box,” refers to the previously universal section of job applications that asks applicants whether or not they’ve ever been convicted of a serious crime — a section found on most job applications that, until now, has rarely been called into question.

However, Governor Deal wasn’t the only speaker to comment on this change — Mark Holden, the General Counsel and Vice President of Koch Industries, admitted that the company had actually been leaving the box off for decades. Holden later elaborated on this headline-generating comment in an interview with USA Today, asking, “Do we want to be judged for the rest of our life for something that happened on our worst day?”

Getting the Full Story

The “ban the box” campaign encourages employers to wait until prospective employees have reached the interview stage before they ask about a criminal history. Supporters claim that this will give citizens with criminal records a chance to turn their lives around, as opposed to remaining virtually unhirable their entire lives.

What’s perhaps most surprising is that this charge is being led by a company (Koch Industries) known for its hyper-conservative tendencies. Even Kentucky Senator Rand Paul commented on the issue, sharing a story of a friend who has struggled to find work ever since his one-time conviction for a drug offense.

In spite of this mounting enthusiasm, there certainly remain causes for concern that companies need to be aware of. We live in an era of ever-increasing lawsuits, and companies that fail to adequately screen their potential employees are at a great risk of being sued for negligence.

Workplace violence has become increasingly common, and the actions of an individual employee will be pinned on the company that he or she works for and represents.

Taking Action

There’s no denying it: we all make mistakes, and we all have elements of our pasts that we probably regret today. A criminal record does not necessarily mean that someone doesn’t deserve a job, and we should certainly honor an individual’s ability to move on from prior errors in judgment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission works to ensure that employers don’t treat criminal history differently when hiring or interviewing different applicants.

Instead of throwing caution to the wind, employers must work harder to tread this delicate balance and give all applicants an equal chance. This doesn’t mean, however, that important precautions can’t be taken — companies have the right to know whether or not their potential hires have a criminal past, and must be held accountable for keeping track of this information.

Taking the time to carry out due diligence and investigate someone’s background could be what saves your company a good deal of money and, more importantly, credibility.

The team at Integrated Security Services will be able to help you carefully judge a potential candidate and their past. Our background checks will be carried out in a swift yet diligent manner, quickly helping you gain a better understanding of your potential hire.

Once you know someone’s character and the specifics of their background, you’ll be able to move forward with the hiring process with fluidity and confidence. No one wants to discriminate against those who’ve made mistakes, but the gravity of these mistakes can vary immensely — a background check will help you determine if your future employee will be able to work effectively and exhibit reputable behavior.