May 20th, 2021 | Sterling

3 Critical Components of a Global Background Check Program

For organisations hiring from a diverse worldwide talent pool, robust global background checks can prove to be an essential step towards risk mitigation. However, performing these types of checks can often present challenges such as the relevant compliance considerations or cultural nuances that need to be taken into account.

Historically, background screening would often be managed independently at a local level, with each country performing checks when hiring candidates for their regional office, but this is less often the case today. With the ease and appetite for travel rapidly increasing over the last two decades, and accelerated growth in global remote working more recently due to the pandemic, it is more common than ever for individuals to live and work abroad. Today, global background check programs are frequently necessary for international organisations as well as domestic businesses that are looking to hire the best talent to work remotely, wherever they may be in the world.

This can present a challenge for businesses that aren’t equipped to screen at a global level. When an organisation that usually hires in a specific location needs to run a background check for a candidate that has spent time outside that country, they may be left scrambling to find a partner that can support a global screening solution and provide the necessary compliance expertise.

We have worked with many companies to develop global programs and as a result have learned a lot along the way and have used this insight to help build out world-class global programs for clients. We have identified three components we believe are critical to a successful global screening program.

  1. Create a Single Centre of Excellence with Representation from Every Region

Over the years, we’ve seen the pendulum swing in two different directions. Firstly, global programs were very specific to the originating country. They were driven by the region or country from which the requirements were determined and once that program was defined in one region, a similar approach then tended to be rolled out across all other areas.

Regions outside these initial locations would sometimes struggle to meet the requirements and may experience difficulty in implementing a program with the ability to adapt to them. With major differences in every country, from culture to local laws and languages, it could be a challenge to adapt to these specific or defined programs.

This led to a geographic centric model, where every region defined their own requirements and their own process and programs. While this model provided autonomy in every region, with the ability of each region to develop a program that complied with their laws and requirements, it also bought with it several challenges. Organisations were less likely to have consistent policies across the globe and would often find it difficult to manage background checks at a global level.

A hybrid model has evolved as the optimal approach, which has become highly effective for businesses across the globe. While there needs to be a consistent set of requirements and standards supported across the organisation, they need to be developed with an understanding of all the regions in which they will be implemented and supported.

Today, Sterling works with clients to develop a single centre of excellence, where the requirements are defined globally; however, while the centre of excellence is physically in one location, it includes representatives from every region to ensure each region’s nuances are accounted for.

  1. Develop One Framework with Flexibility in Execution

While there are many differences in background checks across regions, there are aspects that can be consistent regardless of local laws or culture. It is important that an organisation defines a global program with a single framework by clearly identifying the attributes that remain the same and can be implemented effectively across all regions while managing globally. This includes:

  • Goals and objectives aligned with corporate values regardless of region or location
  • Common set of defined terminology to enable organisations to have the same language and promote conversation globally across the organisation
  • Consistent client and candidate experience – regardless of country, every hiring manager should aim to follow the same process, with every candidate sharing a similar experience using the same applications where possible

Conversely, there are many differences across global locations within the program execution, and so the program should support flexible execution of the framework across those regions.

For example, a single platform can be selected and rolled out globally. While every region may be leveraging the same provider, software and user interface, the interface can include variability in the candidate questions in each region, and the interface language can vary based on locality.

Another example is complying with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). While this may be a familiar term, at a basic level, GDPR is a regulation in the European Union  (EU) covering data protection and privacy. The GDPR was designed to harmonize data privacy across the whole of the EU, allowing citizens to better control their data with a need for privacy by default and giving individuals the right to request the deletion of their data – with businesses facing significant fines if these obligations are not met. It’s important to consider that other countries, such as the US, may have sector-specific laws or state-level legislation around data protection. Regardless of the data collected, or the candidate questions asked, the experience remains consistent. The data (albeit different data) is presented in the same way, the same governance structures are defined around decision making, and the same terminology is used across teams.

The program, products, and technology need to be flexible and dynamic to account for the cultural and legal differences within the consistent framework and experience.

  1. Regional Support

To successfully support our client’s global background check programs, Sterling mirrors client program models with client support, building ‘satellite’ support in each of the respective regions. The satellite support is critical, because by building out a team in every region we develop true in-market expertise. With this knowledge, not only is the team equipped to support the region in their language with an understanding of local laws and culture, but they can also work to develop solutions and fulfilment that directly supports the regional market.

A Background Check Program Is Never ‘Set It and Forget It’

A global background check program is no different than a standard program in that it constantly requires tweaking as legislative changes, technology advances, and new data becomes available. As a result, the Sterling Customer Success team partners closely with clients to provide regular guidance, best practices, and recommendations. We are continually learning and adapting, as well as adding new products to support our clients.

Are you ready to develop a global background check program, or review your existing program and identify areas for improvement? Contact us for more information.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.