Koch Industries, one of the biggest private companies in the world, has officially banned the box. The Kansas-based corporation has reportedly removed all questions pertaining to criminal history from its job applications. With 60,000 employees in the United States, Koch Industries becomes one of the most notable companies in the country to implement ban the box policies. The move not only aligns with the overall Koch company political stance, but also shows how big the "fair chance" employment movement is reaching.
With CEO Charles Koch at the helm, Koch Industries has often been associated with conservative or libertarian political movements. Typically, ban the box policies have been endorsed mostly by liberal states or corporations. However, Koch Industries, particularly Charles Koch, a noted billionaire, is a major corporate proponent of criminal justice reform. With that in mind, it makes sense that the company is taking a stand in opposition of employment policies that some say discriminate against ex-convicts.
By removing questions about criminal history from job applications, Koch Industries will hope to judge applicants more on their skills, experience, and other qualifications, rather than on the mistakes they have made in the past. Proponents of the policy believe that banning the box reduces recidivism, as it gives ex-offenders a better chance at finding gainful employment and rebuilding their lives. Koch Industries will continue to conduct background checks later in the hiring process, though, so the company will still know about applicants' past offenses.
Koch Industries isn't the first company to make headlines this month for embracing fair hiring policies. Apple also garnered nationwide attention recently, after rescinding a policy that unfairly excluded individuals with criminal records. Previously, Apple had barred recent felony offenders from working on the construction of their new headquarters in Cupertino, California. Specifically, the iPhone company refused to hire any individual who had been convicted of a felony in the last seven years. Apple caught heat from unions and "fair chance" hiring activists over that policy, and ultimately decided to consider each applicant on a case-by-case basis, rather than use a blanket policy to exclude a sizable group of people from the project.
Between Koch Industries and Apple, it's clear that criminal history is becoming less of a damning factor in the early stages of the hiring process. Granted, job seekers will still be screened thoroughly, and their criminal charges will still be taken into account for hiring purposes. However, the negative reception for Apple's now-rescinded headquarters project policy, coupled with the positive press that Koch Industries has received for officially banning the box, shows that there is a definite trend toward employers being more accepting of ex-offenders.