Background checking has become a common practice in recent years, but its necessity in evaluating potential employees is arguable. Industry experts have the view that a clean background check is not an accurate indicator of a ‘clean’ employee. They assert that an interview is still very important in the recruiting process. According to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2012, 69 percent of all employers include background checking in their recruitment process.
The increase in background checking is attributed to the April 2012 enactment of the new guidance by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, the use of background checks is raising discrimination issues because minority groups in the US have a higher incarceration rate than the majority group. According to reports, the Latino and Black citizens are arrested about three times more than the White citizens (Mihelich). Therefore, background checks would render most of the jobseekers from the minority groups unfit for employment. Attempts have been made to address this disparity as well as other discriminatory effects of the policies with some meaningful developments emerging. Despite the drawbacks, background checks are still considered important and are likely to remain this way in the future.
Opponents of background checking argue that they are an unnecessary burden to employers. According to the new guidelines, employers should identify the specific job functions and actual job environment in which they will be performed (Mihelich). The addition inclusion of screening to identify criminal information that would make one unfit for the job further complicates the employment process. Furthermore, the discriminatory implications of the process in regards to the disparity in incarceration between the minority and majority groups creates new challenges in the process. In particular, employers have to develop appropriate scrutiny mechanisms that would factor in the disparity. In this regard, for example, the requirement for an applicant to indicate whether he/she has been previously arrested for crime has been removed through the ‘Ban the Box’ movement. In the same breath, an employer should evaluate an applicant as an individual and the nature of crime and its relation to the applied job where a previous arrest is implied (Mihelich). These modifications to the background screening rules seem to address the disparity issue to some extent, but still places the minority groups at a disadvantage as compared to the majority group.
Despite the implicated burden of conducting a fair background screening process, there has been a reported increase in the companies’ compliance to the EEOC. According to the article’s author, the increasing trend in compliance could be an indication that the organizations are not feeling the burden. Conversely, the focus of the employers could be more on compliance than on responding to the burden. Often in business practice, the need to comply with given regulation supersedes the obstacles encountered in complying with them. In addition, organizations are often under pressure to acclimatize with emerging market trends to gain public approval and avoid reputational damage (Drivers of Compliance 6). Therefore, the growing trend in compliance to the EEOC rules is not necessarily an indication of ease, but rather a statement that the organizations are willing to comply with the latest rules in the market.
Nevertheless, the increase in the use of the internet and the ease in the availability of information could be a reason for the increasing trend in compliance. Probably correlation between new technology and the growth in screening agencies could provide a more solid explanation. The internet has often been associated with improved service delivery, ease in communication and efficiency in the transfer of information (Baldwin 13). Therefore, the improved communication between different organizations should have a simplified organizational processes including conducting background checks.
The article presents an overview of background checking and an exploration of what it implies in today’s business world. Recruitment is a vital part of business management and emerging trends in the recruitment are matters of concern in the field. As the author has pointed out, background screening has become part of the recruiting process majorly because of its legislation through the EEOC. The exposition by the author on the various challenges, merits and demerits of the system provides an insight to the actual implication of it in the business world and corporate world.
Through the article, one is able to appreciate the importance of background screening and make an individual assessment of its importance. Furthermore, the article provides a basis for analysis and conducting an improvement in the rule. Specifically, the author exposes significant challenges and issues that touch on discrimination, implementation, and evaluation of background screening. By building on the material, researchers are able to find better ways of implementing the exercise and improving on the current processes and legislation. Similarly, the social, ethical, and cultural implications of background screening can be evaluated for application to markets beyond America. Although the exercise may find value in other geographical regions, its implementation will be determined by the cultural and ethical values of the society. In this regard, the article provides a framework for reference in customizing background screening of different cultures.
Background screening is an emerging trend in the recruiting process, but has faced significant challenges in its implementation and legislation. Considering the racial imbalance in incarceration in the US, background screening has the potential to discriminate against the minority groups. Nevertheless, an improvement in legislation has addressed this discrimination by factoring the nature of arrest and its implication to the job applied for in the scrutiny. Although the increase in trend of background checking has been attributed to growth in technology, the need for compliance could be a significant driving factor. In light of this, background screening is likely to grow further and find use in other geographical regions of the world.
Works Cited
Baldwin, Courtney S. “The Impact of Web-Based Technology on Small Businesses”. Business
and Management Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1-18.
Drivers of Compliance and Non-Compliance With Competition Law. London: Office of Fair Trading, 2010, Accessed 10 Mar. 2017.
Mihelich, Max. “Special Report: A Check on Background Checks – Workforce Magazine”. Workforce Magazine, 2013,, Accessed 10 Mar. 2017.