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Viewing entries tagged
Background Checks

Why Mergers & Acquisitions Have Become HR's Worst Nightmare

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Why Mergers & Acquisitions Have Become HR's Worst Nightmare

Mergers and acquisitions are at an all-time high. In the last five years, the total financial value of mergers has increased by 250 percent and there are no signs that things will slow down in the coming year. While this is good news for dealmakers, it puts HR teams in a precarious situation. As an HR leader, you are more likely to deal with an acquisition than ever before. Additionally, you’re also up against the fact that 20 percent of dealmakers cite cultural alignment as the root cause of failed mergers. This means that even though mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are decided largely on financial projections, your department carries a disproportionate amount of responsibility for its ultimate success or failure.

The good news is that a collective 34 percent of dealmakers now consider effective integration and sound due diligence as the most important factors in achieving a successful M&A. But even though study after study shows that success in mergers and acquisitions hinges on people, culture too often gets lost in the shuffle. As an HR leader, what can you do to make a case for an effective cultural audit and steer your company towards success?

In this blog, we’ll break down why culture has historically been an afterthought in M&As, why that can no longer be the case, and how online screening can help ensure cultural fit with the speed and specificity executives rely on at each stage of a merger or acquisition.

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Screening Your Candidates' Online Content? Don't Miss This Detail

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Screening Your Candidates' Online Content? Don't Miss This Detail

Online content is powerful. From social media to personal blogs, the internet has become one of the largest platforms for people to express themselves. With more and more information being created each day, our online profiles often show more about who we are than we ever share in person.

Companies have recognized the value of this information when determining how well a current or prospective employee will further their mission and values, but there are often more questions than answers around online screening.

When you discover questionable content, what should you do? What are the steps to take when you see something that might be problematic for a particular role?

While every business has unique policies to follow based on state and local regulations, nearly all companies can adopt a few common principles to help ensure compliance within a complex legal landscape. The key to enacting any adverse decision when screening is to focus on the requirements of the job—and to base decisions on the candidate’s overall profile, not individual pieces of content…

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The Riskiest Mistake Your Enterprise HR Team is Making

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The Riskiest Mistake Your Enterprise HR Team is Making

From a young age, we’re taught to go to the doctor regularly to catch potential health issues before they arise. But as we all know, many people wait until something goes wrong before they seek help. Rather than work to stay ahead of potential illness, people fall into the trap of thinking they’re invincible. Unfortunately, we see many companies make this same mistake. When it comes to managing their workforce, companies are notorious for choosing the emergency room when regular, preventative care would have done the trick.

Now that employee conduct and culture are becoming increasingly tied to a company’s reputation, companies who limit their background checks to the hiring process are missing a wealth of critical information about their hiring risk. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee has a tenure of 4 to 10 years. This means that companies who rely exclusively on pre-employment background checks may be missing up to 10 years of important job-related issues per employee.

There’s a lot that can happen after an employee is hired. A senior level director may play nice during the interview but later take to the internet to publicly shame a fellow employee. A customer service rep may clear the background check and later embezzle funds from customers. A government employee may pass a 12-step interview process and security clearance and still be found to have engaged with terrorist activity. In each case, the employee displayed red flags that could have alerted the employer and helped them stop the issue. Instead, the employer missed the signs and was left asking, "How did we miss this?"

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Hollywood's Billion Dollar Social Media Problem

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Hollywood's Billion Dollar Social Media Problem

TV and film studios are scrambling for ways to protect themselves from the controversy and expense of a social media scandal, without having to actually read through thousands of old tweets. The proliferation of digital content has outpaced the industry’s tools for staying on top of it all, leaving companies wondering what to do—and who will be next.

With Roseanne's scandal costing over $60 million in lost ad revenue and Gunn being just the latest star to run into financial and reputational losses over online content, it has become clear that Hollywood has deeply entrenched issues when it comes to screening and managing stars for reputational risk online. At this rate, the industry is slated to lose over $1 billion in the next year over social media issues alone.

Shouldn’t companies be able to mitigate risk up front, before another high-profile social media or sexual harassment scandal arises…?

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What Background Checks Are Missing (That Online Screening Has Found)

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What Background Checks Are Missing (That Online Screening Has Found)

Standard background screening methods can help uncover and verify some valuable info. They help ensure that a candidate actually went to certain schools, worked for certain companies (with the correct titles and at the correct times), and didn’t commit criminal offenses. Depending on applicable state laws and company interests, they may also help spot drug usage and excess spending. With all these methods in the tool belt, why are we still on edge about who we’re hiring?

The reality is that traditional background checks don’t catch everything they should. Even when all of your background checks have done their jobs correctly, none of these checks will accurately predict a proclivity for criminal, toxic, or unprofessional behavior—and that means a clean ‘background check’ may still miss indicators of trouble to come.

While you might feel that your screening methods have been sufficient, the truth is there might be more falling between the cracks than you realize. In a time when companies in all industries are at risk, companies need a new safety net for their hiring process to capture massive volumes of user-generated content, and internal systems to manage a complex workforce that can make or break their company…

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Sexual Harassment: An Inflection Point

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Sexual Harassment: An Inflection Point

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the veil has been lifted on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in the workplace and the numbers are staggering. Millions of men and women have finally been empowered by the #MeToo movement to come forward and tell their stories of being harassed. In fact, 1 in 3 women reported that they have experienced some form of sexual harassment while at work. Unfortunately, this problem isn't limited to a few bad actors either. About 20 to 25 percent of men self-reported participating in sexually coercive behavior, ranging from forced sex to verbal manipulation like guilt-tripping a woman into having sex.

Given the immense breadth of harassment claims that have emerged, it doesn’t seem that there are large enterprises in any industry that can credibly claim that harassment is not an issue they face in their workplace.

That being said, we have begun to learn a lot about the types of companies that are less susceptible to workplace sexual harassment. Organizations with more women in leadership roles, executive buy-in on anti-harassment efforts, and consistent enforcement of corporate policies have proven track records of being less likely to experience workplace harassment (EEOC). Unfortunately, even with all of these efforts, moving the needle on these fronts can still be quite challenging.

This moment has the potential to be a major inflection point in the effort to stop sexual harassment in the workplace. However, if we fail to truly understand the scope of the problem before us, the moment will slip through our fingers. We believe that leaders in technology, law, politics, and HR need to come together to find solutions that speak to the underlying foundations of this problem. Major victories have been won in rooting out some of the worst of the worst but our work is just beginning.

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Fama helps identify harassment at the source and notifies HR professionals immediately to risky behavior. Fama’s web based solution leverages AI technology to identify potential threats before they enter your organization. Call us to learn more.

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Sexism In Silicon Valley

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Sexism In Silicon Valley

The notion that the startup world has a sexism problem is not a new one. But a recent string of controversies has rocked the tech industry, including news of sexual misconduct against Justin Caldbeck, the co-founder of Binary Capital, a prominent VC firm, and allegations that Uber is internally awash with unchecked sexual harassment and gender inequality. These stories shed light on unacceptable behavior by powerful people in tech, and a generally sexist, macho culture.

These characteristics can be difficult to identify in people until it’s too late

For an industry that prides itself on risk taking, problem solving, and disruption, Silicon Valley and the tech world at large have done surprisingly very little about their sexism problem. Yet a lot of these internal issues are, quite simply, rooted in personnel. Working with competent people who have no demonstrable history of sexism or problematic behavior should be a priority, whether you're hiring them, collaborating with them, or funding them. That’s why 60% of US companies are now turning to social media screening as a way to identify these potential issues. But often, these characteristics can be difficult to identify in people until it's too late. So many companies, even those as big and as successful as Uber, are susceptible in sexism in the workplace at the highest levels, a toxicity which recently contributed to the ouster of CEO Travis Kalanick. Uber's future is certainly unknown.

In some cases, like Binary Capital, sexual misconduct was thoroughly crippling. The allegations against Caldbeck led to investors suspending funds for the firm, effectively ruining the company's image. 

Evolution within the tech industry starts with creating a more equal and safe environment at every company, with accountability at every level. The sexism problem can also be countered by hiring more women; TechWorld reports that only 7% of VC partners are female. That's a stark figure which exemplifies how a sexist culture develops. Furthermore, it's important for companies to take advantage of screening or background checks so they can know if a potential employee or executive has a history of problematic behavior. It can be difficult to pinpoint these characteristics in people, but in the interest of protecting companies and most importantly, people, it is necessary.

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SHRM on Social Media Screening in 2017

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SHRM on Social Media Screening in 2017

Policies and practices for human resources are ever-changing, with hiring decisions increasingly based on social media screening and aggregate data.  While the human element is still a pervasive factor in hiring, we’ve seen an indisputable rise in online tools to screen people. According to CareerBuilder, social media screening has gone up by 500% since 2006, with 70% of employers checking people's online profiles during the recruiting and hiring process. This number will only rise. And now, for the first time, the industry has policies on how to do social screening. This is a big deal.

The release of these guidelines is a huge development for social media screening

For several years, HR departments have had the tools of social screening at their disposal but lacked a consistent framework for applying them. Now, thanks to an industry authority, we finally have the beginnings of a policy to follow. The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently released a report on 2017 Employment Screening Trends which provides some best practices. It states that “more organizations will develop formal policies for how searches will be executed, and who will conduct them and how the information will be reviewed.” The release of these guidelines is a huge development for the support of social media screening, particularly by third-party services like Fama.

The fact that SHRM is voicing support for screening is not only a momentous occasion for us and our industry; it also says a lot about where HR is going. Social screening is becoming not only the norm; it’s now one of the most important criteria in hiring. HR requires the same scrutiny as it did before the social media age. This means transparency, compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and consistent, precise criteria that lets you scan for job-related factors on candidates’ social media profiles that safeguards you and your potential hires from discriminatory, unethical behavior. Specifically, SHRM recommends working with a third-party screening service to protect against subjective bias and legal risk. These vendors, including Fama, will only present information relevant to the search and in compliance with FCRA.

By following these new guidelines, you can stand out as leader in your field

Technology is outpacing the law, and it’s important to stay ahead of the curve, not only in the industry but also at your company and within your department. We can’t understate how crucial this development is; these guidelines are a signal in the HR industry that social screening is more important than ever. In following these new guidelines you can stand out as leader in your field, with an edge on your competitors and the peace of mind in knowing that you are following best practices and protecting potential and employees and your own organization in the hiring process. Let us know if you want to talk more about this changing HR climate and what you can do to remain ahead of the pack, and what we can do to help.

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7 Best Practices for Social Media Screens

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7 Best Practices for Social Media Screens

One reason it is incredibly important we embrace the safety, rights and privacy of the individual when looking at social is because the data can be so subjective. The data found on social media represents patterns of behavior, that when strung together create a holistic online identity of a person. However, in some cases the executive may not see the full picture. Someone who tweets crude things, for example, might be a comedian and the content is part of an act. The information needs both context and balance.

Here are our recommendations for best practices on making social media data come alive, whether within a business or government context:

Involve the candidate

Let people know that their social media profiles will be searched. Let them know their public facing social media will be examined, with proper disclosure and authorization. Yes, that means no more cyberstalking, no more incognito searches – let’s be honest and upfront.

Research with compassion

Don’t think of social media as pure grounds for termination, or a definitive reason not to hire someone. Think of it as additional, empirical data available about a person. Then that data must be used to start a conversation with the candidate in question. The individual will either have a reasonable explanation for what’s been found, or they won’t. Either way, people should always have the option to present contrasting evidence.

Take a standardized approach

Consistent practices are important in ensuring that everyone is examined under the same criteria, and that everyone has a fair chance regardless of race, age, creed, station, etc. Further, the point of using social signal data is to begin to understand consistencies in the patterns of behavior to make smarter, better and faster decisions. Ideally, companies will rely on this data less because they will start intuitively understanding what a “good” person looks like online. Two rapidly evolving technologies can support this intuition: artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Get executive buy-in

If an organization allows individuals to manually research patterns of behavior, then it will always be subject to the prejudices and proclivities of a single person. That’s problematic. So set a top-down approach where leaders agree on what to look for, how to act on it, and make that an internal, crystallized policy.

Don't rely on social data alone

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to defining a person. We’re the most magical and diverse creatures walking this earth, and we know it. Use social media data as a companion, not the ultimate arbiter of whom a person is.

Recognize the limits of data analysis and the deep complexity of human behavior

Even a perfect model for picking up hints of terrorism in past behavior won't eliminate all future risks, because humans change behavior as often as they change clothes. Even the best screen can't keep every mosquito from getting through. The best that can be hoped for is to bring risks down to acceptable and largely predictable levels.

Finally, compliance

If you don’t know the laws, find someone who does. If you’re doing social checks, there are a variety of important laws in place to ensure all participating parties are protected.

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