What's your problem?

I run a medium-sized business close to an open prison. I was recently approached by a charity that helps place offenders into local businesses and I'm considering taking some on. I'm feeling a bit wary about doing this but it's time I put something back into society.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

My colleagues are not happy about my suggestion. How far should I champion this, especially as I run the risk of it backfiring?

A: If I were one of your colleagues, I think it would be your use of the word 'some' that alarmed me. How easy for the imagination to race ahead and envisage this relatively small business suddenly being overwhelmed by dozens of unqualified people, and all of them with criminal records.

Equally, I don't believe you should be deterred by their initial hostility. I think you should go back to the charity and say you'd be very happy to give work experience to just one of these offenders, subject to a preliminary meeting. Take one of your colleagues with you - and if the candidate seems to you both to be a reasonable bet, take him or her on.

Resist the temptation to be the offender's personal godparent yourself: much fairer and more effective to invite one of your colleagues to do so. Keep it all fairly low-key and most of that early suspicion will soon be forgotten.

- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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