A recent Q&A with Richard Branson in the New York Times reinforced what we already know; many employers support second chances for ex-convicts. Most employers want to do the right thing and most employers will give an ex-con a chance to rebuild their lives.
[Q:] In the book [Losing My Virginity: How I Survived Business, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way], you tell a story about an employee at Virgin Records who stole from you. You didn’t fire him, and he went on to discover Boy George. Should managers follow your example? [A:] We hire a lot of ex-convicts, and not one of them has reoffended. They’re just human. I messed up with the tax man when I was a teenager, and I was given a second chance then. If I hadn’t had that second chance, there wouldn’t be 60,000 people working for Virgin today. We wouldn’t be going to space in a few months’ time. Second chances should be allowed. But, I mean, not always.
Sir Richard Branson has a blog posting on Virgin’s website, employing more ex-offenders, where he
encourage[s] more companies to proactively recruit ex-offenders. Our experience of this within Virgin has been wholly positive particularly when working with organisations such as Working Chance [a London-based institution for the UK], who offer restorative recruitment for women offenders.
I believe our society should do more to support positive initiatives to encourage the rehabilitation of prisoners. We should create more chances for people who have been in jail to make a positive contribution to the workforce.
Virgin’s experience in hiring ex-convicts started in Australia when, as reported in a 2011 story in the Guardian following a challenge from Comic Relief creator, Jane Tewson, to spend a day in a Melbourne jail.