Sony Music UK awarded prestigious YOUNITED Flag for commitment to hiring ex-offenders

Sony Music is one of fifteen UK companies to have been awarded the YOUNITED Flag, in recognition of our commitment to hiring ex-offenders. 

Launched in September 2019 by Nile Rodgers and crime prevention charity Key4Life, the YOUNITED Flag award encourages companies to employ ex-offenders, rewarding those that do with the prestigious kitemark. Flag-bearing former convicts on horseback paraded at Mansion House for the awards ceremony last week, where Alderman William Russell, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, presented the accolades.

“I’m honoured to present the YOUNITED Flag awards,” said Russell. “It’s remarkable to see graduates from rehabilitation programmes attaining impressive corporate roles because someone cared enough, for long enough, to change their lives. Employing ex-offenders offers the chance to include a new perspective in the workplace and provides a genuine opportunity to do something meaningful by offering these young men a second chance.”

The ceremony also marked the ninth birthday of Key4Life, which has an unrivalled track record for transforming the lives of some of the most disaffected young men in Britain. The charity reduces re-offending through its innovative rehabilitation programme for young men in prison and those at risk of going to prison, saving lives by helping to break the cycle of crime. 

“Research shows that 50% of corporate Britain would not hire ex-offenders, and yet having a job is the crucial success factor for men with convictions,” said Eva Hamilton, Founder and CEO of Key4Life. “With reoffending costing the UK government £18.1 billion a year, the YOUNITED Flag award highlights how employing ex-offenders can drive change by dispelling stereotypes and removing unfair prejudice.” 

Sony Music UK has been supporting Key4Life since 2018 and formalised the relationship last year via the UK arm of Sony Music Group’s Global Social Justice Fund. Sony Music Group’s global Social Justice Fund was created in June 2020 to support social justice, equal rights and anti-racist initiatives and has supported more than 300 organisations worldwide so far. In addition to providing funding, Sony Music has supported Key4Life and the young men on a holistic level, with employees and artists becoming involved and volunteering their time and skills, offering mentorship, leading workshops and more. 

As an extension of this work, a group of nine ex-offenders are releasing a five-track EP with Sony Music UK via Columbia Records. Key4Life Vol.1 is set for release on 15th October, featuring Creepa, K.O.B, BB, General Sneeks, Mezza, Curtis Blow, RAWRY, Cali1 The Artist and G Medici Online – plus collaborations with BRIT Award-winner Fred Again, artist mentor DJ Semtex (Director of Artist Development at Sony Music UK), rapper and producer Jevon and producer Prynce Mini. 

Some of the artists featured on the EP closed the YOUNITED Flag awards ceremony with a short private performance.

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