Ex-offenders can prove hard working and loyal members of staff if they are given a chance, delegates at the CIPD's Parole to Payroll conference heard.
Neil Wallace, CIPD advisor on employing ex-offenders and former HR director at manufacturing firm Corning Optical Fibre, believes employers need to change their attitudes towards ex-offenders when recruiting.
He said: "When I was in HR I did not want to know about employing convicted criminals. I had enough problems in the workforce so did everything I could to check records. This must change and attitudes must move on from risk aversion to risk assessment."
Diana Worman, diversity advisor at the CIPD, agrees that former offenders can make ideal employees."Ex-offenders respond to a stable environment and are more likely to stay with an employer because it is harder for them to get a job," she said.
"Organisations could be putting themselves in a horrendous situation if they continue to exclude and do not assess the talent of a large percentage of the potential workforce."
Bobby Cummines, chief executive of ex-offenders charity Unlock, said: "Former offenders will not let any fiddles go down because they know that they will be the first looked at. They are the best security system around."
Cummines, who served 13 years for armed robbery, told delegates that ex-offenders have the skills to be successful in the workplace. Ex-offenders have life skills and perspectives that employers might not have. The skills they have are transferable and can be used by businesses.
"You (employers) can help ex-offenders to turn the use of their skills from a negative to a positive," he said.