It’s time to re-evaluate the recruitment process – and this is why

People are your most important asset. They are at the heart of everything your organisation does, and they will determine how successful your business becomes. So, it’s crucial that you attract and retain the best talent. CSR programmes and your recruitment process can help you to do this. 

Top candidates have high expectations and want to work for companies that adhere to their corporate and social values, with an approach that supports their own beliefs. With Fortune Global 500 companies spending more than $15 billion a year on CSR programmes, it’s important to effectively communicate what you stand for. 

Let’s consider how you might adapt your recruitment process to attract the right candidates and champion inclusion and diversity – while remaining true to your responsibilities and values.

Introducing ‘Ban the Box’ 

One in five adults has a criminal record. That’s over 11 million people in the UK. Of those, less than 8% have actually served a custodial sentence. Yet there is a stigma that makes it difficult for these individuals to get back into work and re-engage with society.

CSR programmes

How could it benefit your recruitment process?

The majority of application forms include a tick-box asking about criminal convictions. This potentially removes the chance of someone being evaluated fairly for the role they are applying for and allows unconscious bias to creep into the process.

Acas, the advisory, conciliation and arbitration service, says unconscious bias occurs when people favour others who look like them and/or share their values. They go on to explain that a person may be drawn to someone with a similar educational background, from the same area, or who is the same colour or ethnicity as them.

Similarly, another form of unconscious bias described by Acas is known as the halo effect. This is where a positive trait is transferred onto a person without anything really being known about them. For example, those who dress conservatively are often seen as more capable in an office environment, based purely on their attire.

Behaviour which reinforces the bias is noticed, while behaviour which doesn’t is ignored. This is how decisions based on an unconscious bias are justified.

‘Ban the Box’ calls on UK employers to give ex-offenders a fair chance to compete for jobs by removing the tick-box from application forms, then asking about criminal convictions later in the recruitment process.

Who runs ‘Ban the Box’?

Ban the box is run by Business in the Community (BITC) – the oldest and largest business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business. 

As of September 2019, 135 companies including Ricoh, have signed up to be part of ‘Ban the Box’. This means that rather than ask about criminal convictions in a box on their recruitment forms, they ask this question once a job offer is about to be made. 

The conviction is then risk-assessed more fairly against a person’s true skills and abilities. And more specifically for the actual role, they would potentially be employed to do.

How does the partnership work?

Not only has Ricoh signed up for ‘Ban the Box’, we’re also involved much earlier in the process. We work closely with UK prisons on one of our CSR programmes, to host workshops on-site. These workshops are facilitated by Ricoh employees and involve teaching prisoners skills to assist them with employability upon release.

Topics covered include:

  • CV writing: focuses on what a professional CV should look like. Allows participants to create their own with advice and guidance
  • Job skills: discusses various jobs and industries to give an idea of what opportunities may be available or suited to the participants
  • Interview skills: teaches interview skills and then practicing in a corporate environment. Covers best practice, common questions and answers and interview styles with hints and tips
  • Interview practice and preparation: roleplay and further workshops in which the prisoners learn when to disclose their offence and how to explain the situation fully. Guidance is also provided on how to talk about the future

It’s an invaluable day that gives both employees and participants the chance to openly communicate. This also helps to appreciate each other’s challenges. There is also an opportunity for your people to understand the prison and the ways in which they assist rehabilitation. For example, with training in vocational skills.

In addition, Ricoh offers a work placement scheme to assist the transition back into the world of work. Currently, we have permanent employees who would not have been employed had it not been for ‘Ban the Box’.

How can this CSR programme benefit my organisation and people?

  • Access to more than 11 million people in the UK with a criminal record who may not necessarily have served a custodial sentence
  • A wider range of more diverse talent
  • New skills; ex-offenders have faced unique challenges
  • It’s an opportunity for your people to grow and develop new skills by working with diverse talent
  • Enhances your corporate social responsibility program and company brand

This is about changing attitudes, developing aspirations and providing hope. Providing an opportunity to make a real difference at a pivotal point in someone’s life.

How do I get involved?

If you would like to learn more about corporate social responsibility at Ricoh UK, or how to get involved in the initiatives mentioned, feel free to drop me a line on LinkedIn.

Find out more about signing up to Ban the Box here

Read more about our work with HMP Onley

Your people are just one aspect of a modern and responsible business. Download our Optimal Office guide to find out what else you need to consider.

About Business in the Community

Business in the Community is the oldest and largest business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business. Created nearly 40 years ago by HRH The Prince of Wales. They seek to inspire, engage and challenge members, mobilising their collective strength as a force for good in society, and help to:

  • Create a skilled, inclusive workforce today and for the future
  • Build thriving communities in which to live and work
  • Innovate to repair and sustain our planet

Ricoh have been members for over 12 years. We use BITC’s knowledge, tools and resources to inspire our leaders.

And we develop new CSR Programmes to help us challenge ourselves to be the very best we can be as a responsible business. 

We will continue to benchmark our progress. We will create a leadership role to help encourage more businesses to work with us on these societal challenges. There is a current focus on the circular office and on supporting the most disadvantaged enter the workforce.


James Deacon

Head of Corporate Responsibility

Read all articles by James Deacon