It sounds like a great idea. You walk into a store looking for a job and are asked three simple questions:
1. Are you authorized to work in the U.S.?
2. Can you stand for up to eight hours?
3. Can you lift more than 50 pounds?
If the answer is “Yes” to all three, you’re hired! That is exactly the process used at The Body Shop, an international retailer of beauty, cosmetics and skin care products.
While here at GroupOne Background Screening, we applaud any initiative that increases the employment opportunities of candidates with criminal records, is it a smart plan for the long run? Is it something as hip as say, the Impossible Whopper – or is it just a “whopper?”
Whether we agree or not, The Body Shop has adopted an “open hiring” approach, through which it will hire the first candidates who apply for roles in its warehouse and distribution centers.
There will be no drug tests or background checks. A person’s criminal record will not keep them from being hired. The company claims that it will hire almost every person who meets the basic requirement. Early results have been positive, with monthly turnover decreasing by 60% during test programs.
Founded by Anita Roddick in the U.K., the Body Shop now has almost 3,000 stores in 65 countries, with plans to expand this interviewing experiment to its entire retail chain.
A socially conscious approach toward business is always good, not to mention the extraordinary PR. Roddick is also a proponent of using products that are ethically sourced and against conducting product tests on animals.
Despite legislation like the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019 and the growing “Ban the Box” initiative, it is an unfortunate reality that people with criminal records have a difficult time finding jobs. Looking past a criminal past offers an important second chance.
GroupOne applauds any company that gives people a chance to turn their lives around. But our applause stops short. While such well-meaning goals are commendable, there eventually could be consequences.
Since any person with a criminal record will be working closely with others, management should conduct due diligence to ensure the safety of all employees. This is true of applicants who don’t have a criminal record as well. We also ask, “How often will these employees be in contact with customers?”
Just as the Impossible Whopper tastes like a real Whopper, operating your business in a socially conscious manner has surprising results. But could some of these surprises be detrimental to the company and open it up to legal liabilities? What will the repercussions be if The Body Shop hires a person who does something harmful that a simple background check could have avoided?
A first-come, first-serve approach to hiring can also potentially penalize more qualified candidates. The Body Shop, or any company for that matter, could indeed be eliminating employees who possess better, more appropriate skills.
It makes good business sense to offer interviews to a larger pool of candidates and select the most appropriate job seekers. If managers and HR directors are going to assemble the most successful teams for their companies, they must be involved in the decision-making process.
A simple background check ensures the applicant understands the demands of the position and is comfortable doing the job. In addition, the manager deserves the chance to thoroughly vet an applicant to determine if they can follow the rules and work well with others.
The Body Shop has stated they wish “business to be a fun and powerful force for good.” We appreciate such inspiration. But is refusing to do background checks an irresponsible dream? Time will tell.