If we go back a decade of two, the idea of hiring an ex-convict might have left a sour taste in the mouths of HR leaders. For years, ex-convicts have been discriminated against by companies who often would refuse to hire individuals based on their past criminal record.

When one sits and really thinks about it, this might seem wholly unfair. Of course, HR leaders have every right to be cautious around ex-criminals. There will always be a few bad apples that refuse to repent for their crimes no matter what. However, there are also a large number of ex-convicts who just want a fresh start in life. By refusing to hire them, are we not condemning them back into a desperate situation where they might be forced to commit crimes once more just to survive?

This is a common occurrence around the world. However, as of late, governments and businesses both have begun to warm up to ex-convicts. Slowly but surely, more businesses have begun taking the chance to hire these individuals and give them a second chance.

There are several reasons for this, one of which is the inability to be picky in a world where the workforce is gradually thinning. Developed nations in particular are facing the issue of a rapidly shrinking workforce. More and more people are retiring while birth rates are dropping. The result is a bare workforce which is struggling to meet the demand for fresh and new talent.

Former inmates can serve as a solution for this lack of manpower. Most prisons are not just a detention facility. They are also rehabilitation centres. There are plenty of prisons that have programmes and activities aimed at self-improvement and the stimulation of creativity. Many of these programmes are even led by senior inmates themselves. As such, a good number of inmates are often released with fresh new ideas and perspectives that could be useful for a business.

A recent survey in the UK hospitality industry by Caterer.com found consumers are drawn to businesses which are socially conscious when hiring, showing employers can benefit commercially from recruiting underrepresented groups. As of late, the general public has become more aware of the situation of ex-inmates, resulting in greater empathy.

Approximately 42 percent of consumers said they would be more likely to visit a restaurant if they knew it employed ex-offenders. About 64 percent said they think that hospitality businesses can play a role in helping ex-offenders and those who have experienced homelessness back into the community.

Non-governmental organisations (NGO) dedicated to aiding and assisting former-ex convicts have also been appearing around the world. These organisations are spreading awareness on the situation of ex-convicts and advertising their talents and abilities to businesses in an attempt to make it more accommodating for employers to hire these former inmates.

Samuel Lim, a coordinator for Malaysian Care, a Malaysia-based NGO dedicated to helping ex-convicts, said: “Temptation to go back to criminal life is always overwhelming. But A simple support such as providing basic necessities and offering simple means that helps get them back on their feet means a lot in making the difference between a change of habits and repeating it.”

While the re-assimilation of ex-criminals into society might be a difficult and time-consuming process, helping to keep these individuals from turning back to crime and transforming them into productive members of society will only benefit everyone in the end.


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