Background check, why, and to what extent?
Should you spend the same amount of time and money on a background check for an executive of a large publicly held corporation or for a stock boy. No, of course not – but why? (The sad truth is that more money is spent on background checks for menial labor than for senior executives, but don’t get me started down that path…).
The amount of time, depth and money spent on a background check should be directly proportional to the amount of damage that person can do. Damage ability is directly proportional to the important of the function and the amount of contact and potential impact the person can have on the public.
Most of the time we work on perceived threat. That is why more dollars are spent on stock room help than on senior executives: because executives don’t view peers as potential threats, or they believe that they can personally assess the threat. The best source for information on risk is actuarial tables, lacking those, look to damage ability: Sensitivity of information/task and contact with the public.
Truck drivers rarely handle sensitive information, yet they interact with the public every hour of every day on the roads. Most states require a history, drivers record, and a medical exam to be a licensed truck driver. The perceived and real threat seem to be in balance.
A pizza delivery person for a large franchise requires all of the same because deliverers drive cars and deliver pizza to the public. OK the cars seem important but pizza delivery? Wait until you see the jury verdict when a pizza delivery man rapes and kills a woman who ordered pizza — it has happened in our town. Is the threat and counter measures in balance? Maybe.
An executive of a large pension plan manages millions of dollars. A quick criminal check and he is cleared to begin work. Within two months he has embezzled $2,400,000 dollars. It seems he had some difficulty keeping up his life style on his salary. The threat and countermeasures were definitely not in balance. A means-versus-ability test needed to be performed on his debt versus his income. Estimate cost of this test, $150.00 or less.
A doctor is given privileges at a hospital. A patient under his care dies and the hospital is sued. While the state medical board show no complaints, the civil litigation of the very same county shows two malpractice case that have been filed for wrongful death. In the medical field the liability and exposure are far in excess of the meager background checks, if any, that these professional perform on each other.
A janitor is hired by a company that does janitorial work for many businesses and some California schools. California makes it a misdemeanor to conduct a criminal background check before hiring someone unless the job is one of a few exempt positions. If he were being hired by the school district and the not the contract janitorial service, a full criminal background check would have been performed. If the background check had been performed they would have found that he was a convicted rapist and a suspected child molester. But they didn’t, and he was, so when he went to work for the janitorial contractor at a school district it only took him 4 days before he raped and killed a child. And what sort of background checks does your organization do?