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.
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More