Fresh out of prison after serving a three-year sentence for grand larceny, Scott Lang hides his criminal conviction from his manager, Dale, at ice cream chain Baskin-Robbins. Upon discovery, Dale says that he “couldn’t be happier” about Lang’s “cool crime”, and showers him with compliments... before firing him on the spot. Could this conversation have played out differently if HR was involved?
We’ve got to start turning the tide on attitudes towards employing ex-offenders, says Natasha Stansby, director of HR at Gregory Distribution. Those who’ve been to prison traditionally find it more difficult to gain meaningful employment, and YouGov data shows only 17 per cent find a job within a year of release.
“You can understand why an employer would feel betrayed by Lang’s actions, and hiding your past won’t help them trust you,” says Stansby. “But people can be rehabilitated and the taboo around employing ex-offenders can make it seem like lying on your application form is the only option.”
Dale should be encouraged to be sensitive towards Lang’s plight, she explains, as an unspent conviction doesn’t mean candidates should be ruled out: “Absolutely consider the seriousness of the crime, but look at the skills and experience they have. There may be mitigating circumstances, so talking to them is the next step.”
She says recruiters need to utilise untapped talent pools, and ex-offenders could plug skill gaps if employers were more open-minded – they may not be hiring Ant-Man, but there could be another superhero waiting to join their organisation.