Mitigating risks and strengthening trust: the crucial role of background checks


Conducting thorough employment and supplier background checks is crucial, writes Sameer Kumandan, managing director of SearchWorks.

In high-value segments of the economy, it’s clear why each sector becomes a target for various forms of malfeasance – ranging from deceptive suppliers and tender fraud, to dubious job applicants.

Background checks reduce a company’s risk for reputational damage and criminal activities such as fraud and theft. They can also verify information on an applicant’s resumé and assist HR professionals in determining whether an individual is the right fit for the job.

HR professionals recognise the significance of these checks in not only verifying job candidates’ credentials, but also in identifying potential risks that could hinder leadership development and transformational initiatives.

Finding and managing talent for an organisation is a responsibility that is both time and resource intensive. Making a poor hiring decision is more than a costly mistake. It results in lost time and expenses due to the need to recruit and train another candidate, and has the unintended consequence of dampening employee morale and productivity. And the more senior the position, the higher the stakes become.

When health and safety regulations require an individual to have specific qualifications to access a workplace, embellishing or falsifying information is not a white lie, but a significant risk. In leadership positions, the responsibility and duty of care are magnified. Leaders are accountable for the wellbeing of their employees, the satisfaction of their customers, and the impact of their organisation on society at large.

According to a survey from CareerBuilder, 75 percent of HR managers confirmed that they’ve caught wind of a CV lie. The most common lies that job seekers tell in their resumés:

- Lying about their job title/responsibilities
- Claiming language fluency
- Inflating their skill sets
- Altering dates of employment
- Lying about their degree or adding fake certifications
- Concealing a criminal record
- Falsifying work experience
- Changing their matric results/grade

Trust is critical in the employment relationship, irrespective of the seniority of the position in question. Employers need to be able to trust their people to do their jobs, and to treat colleagues and customers with respect, while representing their brand with dignity.

The people hired within a business are a direct reflection of the organisation. They are a brand’s ambassadors, and they show customers, partners, and clients what a business stands for. Therefore, background checks ensure that a business hires people that can uphold an organisation’s values and expectations.

Here, social media screening is a critical component of a thorough background check and can give valuable insights into characteristics such as the individual’s work ethic, personal values, and beliefs. It can also identify key risk areas based on available content, such as racism, homophobia, hate speech, illegal activities, disclosure of confidential information and dishonesty.

At a broader level, robust and ethical leadership are vital if South Africa wants to improve its economic position. To achieve this, it is necessary to strengthen good governance practices. Complete and accurate information enables better, more transparent decision-making, which in turn can create greater trust between organisations and their stakeholders.

Preventing and mitigating irregularities, fraud and corruption through due diligence at all levels in a business can free organisations to improve the products and services they offer in order to grow and make a positive contribution to the bottom line and to South Africa at large.

Related articles

Good leaders are great performers

Successful leaders have mastered the art of compelling leadership storytelling, writes Nelia Joubert-Hartman, change marketing director at the Actuate Group.