Growth Company stands by commitment to ex-offenders after women quit over team leader with sex offender convictions

(Stock image from Pixabay)

The Growth Company says it is standing by its policy of not asking job applicants to confirm they have no criminal convictions. 

The Manchester-based training and business support organisation, and funded by government through programmes it delivers locally and nationally, has been rocked by two very public resignations of women from the organisation who were unhappy that a sex offender with multiple convictions worked there.

The man, who no longer works for the Growth Company, was employed as a team leader and was delivering courses on a programme aimed at self-employed adults in the gig economy.

A former staff member has gone public on a series of LinkedIn posts claiming that the organisation failed to inform her of the man’s record and discouraged her and colleagues from discussing his actions and past behaviour. 

She has also expressed concern that the work the ex-offender did for the Growth Company inevitably involved him developing positions of trust and confidentiality with women.

“We should have needed Enhanced DBSs. They misinterpreted the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and have actually hurt the cause of the rehabilitated offenders (which I’m sure are the majority) having reintegration and moving on from what they did,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Growth Company said: “As an organisation, we have always had robust and supportive safeguarding measures in place across all our services to ensure the safety of colleagues and clients. Our policies and procedures are regularly and routinely reviewed, to uphold both our legal responsibility and our organisational values. Our recruitment and employment practices are designed to protect children and vulnerable adults and we remain committed to a culture of respect, equality and diversity. We promote a safe working environment for all and operate a zero tolerance to any form of harassment or discrimination.”  

However the statement goes on to restate the organisation’s commitment to rehabilitation of offenders and it’s support for a campaign aimed at giving offenders a second chance.

“The Growth Company is also committed to the rehabilitation of ex-offenders and continues to support the ‘Ban the Box’ campaign, which means we do not ask questions about criminal convictions at the application stage of our recruitment process. This means that we undertake DBS checks where appropriate at the point where individuals are deemed suitable for the role based on their skills and experience. Where a DBS highlights offences, these are considered on a case-by-case basis to determine the appropriateness of continuing with an offer of employment.”

However, business coach Helen Calvert, who was not employed directly by the Growth Company, but who was delivering courses on the same programme, has also gone public on her concerns.

In her letter of resignation as a contracted coach, she said: “Personally I don’t care what the legalities are or what the regulations say. If on my left I have a known sex offender who was once banned from approaching women unfamiliar to him, and on my right I have a woman, do I give him her personal details? Allow him 1:1 unrecorded access to her? Encourage her to take his advice? Suggest he should be her boss? No. Obviously not. Obviously not.” 

The complaints concern a former member of staff who had twice been found guilty of sex offences. knows the identity of the person concerned. In 2004 he was found guilty of trying to entice young girls into taking part in hardcore porn photo shoots and was banned from approaching any woman in the UK for five years.

He also had three previous convictions for indecent assault on girls under the age of 16 and another for indecent exposure, for which he had been placed on probation in 1995.

The government-funded programme he worked on is especially designed to support self-employed individuals, including those who work in the gig economy and small business owners in Greater Manchester.

The programme offers free advice in different areas, from personal skills and career development to business and personal finance.

The spokesperson for the Growth Company said: “We are aware of concerns raised in relation to one of our former employees, and understand the sensitivities given their nature. We have a duty of care to all our clients and colleagues and want to reassure everyone that we take their safety and wellbeing seriously. 

“The programme is not aimed at vulnerable adults as defined by the Government, and DBS checks to understand previous criminal history are not undertaken as standard. Where clients inform us of vulnerabilities due to other factors, appropriate support is provided.”


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