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Businesses Pursue Better Vetting Processes in the #MeToo Age

By Michael Klazema on 7/3/2018

The #MeToo-inspired reckoning occurring everywhere from Hollywood to Wall Street has ushered in a new age of accountability in the workplace. However, it has also increased the pressure on Human Resources departments to not only manage these accusations appropriately but also find ways to prevent them from happening at all. 

Smarter, more thorough vetting procedures, some businesses believe, can reduce the likelihood they will hire someone who will go on to exhibit dangerous or offensive behavior. Though stronger vetting procedures can yield helpful results, not every sector of the business world has embraced the concept.

In a survey of Wall Street investment funds reported on by Bloomberg, nearly a third of businesses reported they did not use an independent provider to perform background checks on applicants, and a small portion conducted no checks whatsoever. The survey revealed an industry slow to adopt stronger protections and precautions against sexual harassment. 

Critics allege this is in part due to a "cover-up culture" based on the use of non-disclosure agreements to keep allegations and settlements private and out of view. New York and Washington state have moved to curtail the legality of such arrangements, and more laws are on the way elsewhere to put an end to this practice. 

Others have turned to deep dive background checks to detect candidates with checkered pasts, especially involving harassment or abuse. Some companies have chosen to more heavily consider arrest reports, such as those that can appear on a state-level criminal report from backgroundchecks.com, when they involve harassment charges. Businesses must carefully navigate the use of such information to avoid discriminatory practices, as guidelines often vary by state. Some firms making powerful, high-level hiring decisions have probed deeper into their candidates' backgrounds by interviewing friends and former employers. 

Preventative action and a positive workplace culture must be implemented in conjunction with better pre-employment checks. The Washington Hospitality Association shared a document covering important ideas for policy changes restaurant owners could implement to foster a better workplace culture. Leading by example and establishing safe lines of communication for reporting troubles are critical steps to take, as is taking decisive action when problems occur. 

The process of coming to terms with this dramatic shift in the workplace will be a unique journey for many businesses, but the trends make it clear that now is the time to re-examine policies to improve safety and protect employees. backgroundchecks.com provides a range of products useful in the pre-employment screening process, including the national US OneSEARCH and employment verification services. As #MeToo continues to grow, so should businesses’ efforts to respond.

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