Blogging background checking and security issues


Arrogance in the Industry

I was once discussing the results of someone’s background check with a client and the client made a statement that was something to the effect of, "These people do things that we would never do." This client in particular made hiring decisions for a high-profile, international company, but I’ve heard the same sentiment expressed in either words or demeanor by a number of other people involved in doing background checks.

This attitude is sickening. We live and work with people who are very similar to us and somehow feel justified in looking down on people who haven’t had our so-called "advantages in life. We easily say (or think, if we aren’t bold enough to say it) that the person who was convicted for drug abuse or prostitution is nothing like us and that we are much "better people." Of course, we probably don’t bother to define what a "better person" really is. I personally think we equate "better" with someone who is willing to live by middle to upper class society’s accepted behaviors and conventions.

The truth is, we don’t really know what made that individual commit those crimes. We don’t know that she was born into a culture of drugs and that after making some bad decisions she’s now trying to break out of the pattern. Maybe she made fewer bad decisions than those around her and maybe she’s becoming a "better person" that we ourselves are in the truer, moral sense. We like to think we never would have done what "those people" do, but that’s not true at all. Every one of us is capable of any character flaw we see in another. As the saying goes, "It takes one to know one." Given the same circumstances, and perhaps having made the same small, bad decisions that weren’t necessarily illegal, we might be in the same position as that person we’re looking down upon.

Don’t misunderstand me. Background checking is important in today’s world and you have to have legally-defensible standards in place to help you make appropriate hiring decisions. What I’m saying is that it can be difficult to be the one who points the finger. Background checking can be very de-humanizing, and unless we’re hoping to live a lonely life, we need to be careful that we don’t think that an imperfect background check means that a person’s life has less value. As humans we’re often trying to set ourselves apart. However, we need to realize that nobody is perfect or exempt from some kind of temptation.


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