“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group uses these Gandhi’ words to encourage business widely open the door to ex-offenders and give them opportunities.
Virgin Trains is a great initiative in hiring of ex-offenders. Branson said, empowerment, education and employment offer the best hope and ensure that people become productive members of society. Indeed, Educational, skills training and real work programs are necessary to help them successfully get a job and fit back into workplaces. And the key is that business should provide dignity of work and then they can get values from new sources, reliable and committed employees. Branson always actively encourages his Virgin group of companies to hire people freshly released from prison even those who are still waiting to be released.
On the problem of disclosing a criminal record, Virgin trains also supports Unlock your Future, another initiative by No Offence, which promotes that a prior conviction will no disqualify ex-offender’s job application. “Perhaps we should have a clause in our applications stating that Virgin does not hold a criminal record against applicants”, Branson said. Additionally, Virgin also looks at fine work organizations like Working at Journeys which seeks to help people with drug addiction to find a job. We can see Branson not only leads virgin but also gives supports to non-profit organizations for addressing the social issue of ex-offender unemployment.
- If business can offer a different future, skills can help overcome drug or alcohol addiction once ex-offenders get education opportunities.
- Employer can be rewarded with productive, reliable and committed employees if they rethink to hire ex-offenders and provide the dignity of work.
- The first and important step business need do is accepting a job application from someone without prejudice.
-by Xinru Liu