August 27th, 2021 | Tim Stokes, Head of Sales EMEA, Sterling

How safety-first background checks safeguard children

At Sterling, our mission is to provide the foundation of trust and safety our clients need to create great environments for their most essential resource, people. We believe that everyone has the right to feel safe. Many organisations that we are having conversations with understand the importance of safety too – none more so than those that serve and work with vulnerable populations such as children.

While we previously explored the concept of the circle of safety which ensures organisations manage their own risk (their ‘circle of safety’) and therefore their own people, in this post we’ll go one step further and look at how this can be done to safeguard customers and some of the most vulnerable populations such as children. 

One way this is being achieved by thousands of businesses and professionals across the globe is by putting into place robust standards such as the International Child Safeguarding standard.  This demonstrates commitment to ensuring organisations ‘do not harm’ and that they meet the responsibilities as outlined in the UN Convention on the Right of the Child. Since the introduction of the child safeguarding standard, organisations have recognised the increased need and responsibility in all that they do to keep children safe.

How Sterling helped Lego safeguard children  

We’re no stranger to the concept of child safeguarding, having previously helped Lego with the implementation of an international unified standard, which was an extension of their global commitment to children’s rights, complementing all existing child safeguarding work that was currently taking place across their organisation. This helped to closely align children’s rights into the daily operations of the business, and ultimately prioritizes the safety of their customers – children. While this global unified standard is not a legal requirement for a commercial organisation, it does provide peace of mind knowing that the people, culture and brand values rest on a foundation of trust and safety. For a start to finish insight into how this was done, check out our LEGO GROUP customer story.

What are the child safeguarding standards?  

Keeping children safe standards, are becoming more widely adopted across all industry sectors as a way of ensuring best practice in child safeguarding. Within the standard there are four key elements that should be addressed to to meet the standards and to help keep children safe:  

  1. Standard 1: Policy – this outlines and describes the steps that must be taken in order to prevent harm to children
  2. Standard 2: People – clear responsibilities and expectations are set out for all staff members and associates
  3. Standard 3: Procedures – the creation of a child-safe environment by introducing high-quality safeguarding procedures in all activities and programs of the business
  4. Standard 4: Accountability – this involves regular monitoring and reviewing of the safeguarding measures in place

Within Standard 2, which focuses on people, there is an emphasis on ensuring the recruitment process has strong safeguarding measures in place. And within this, there are four areas that employers should consider – these are areas Sterling can help with and include:   

  • Asking for documentation in order to confirm the identity of the individual as well as proof of relevant qualifications
  • Ensuring an individual has up to three references including some from previous employers or others who have knowledge of the candidate’s experience and suitability to work with children
  • Verifying the identity of referees
  • Conducting as many background checks as possible

Conducting as many background checks as possible  

Background checks have become an essential part of many organisations’ recruitment processes over the years, helping to mitigate risks and provide the facts for more informed hiring decisions. It’s no surprise that the safeguarding standard highlights background checks, particularly for activities with children – as you’ll want to know that the people working for you are indeed who they say they are, that they have the necessary qualifications for the role in question, and do not present any alarming red flags. After all, if one bad hire slips through the net, that’s one too many and particularly when children are involved.

Criminal record checks are one way of reducing the risks, allowing you to get a complete picture of an applicant’s criminal history. This can present complexities, particularly at a global level if chosen to do so in-house. Sterling’s Employment and Activity Verifications provide employers with factual information about the candidate’s work history directly from source – in most cases human resources and payroll. Moreover, Reference checks and Education & Credential verifications help to verify the true identity of the referees and provide an opportunity to learn more about the candidate and their qualifications. It’s also worth noting that while a background check provides a great starting point, rescreening should be a consideration for employers as this keeps pace with the lives of your employees – to learn more about this, check our blog post “How to create safer workplaces with rescreening.

A safety-first approach to child safeguarding

Working with Sterling, organisations can be reassured that a safety-first approach is being taken in all that we do – our mission statement reflects this very purpose with trust and safety a critical component. While technology, turnaround times, and speed remain important considerations, when we talk about safety-first, we’re taking a broader view and focusing on the core fundamental reason why we exist as business – because we believe everyone has the right to feel safe. Many organisations understand that this doesn’t just rest with the hiring manager, the HR function, or the safeguarding teams, but should involve buy in from all, at every level of the organisation. 

If you’d like to discuss improvements to existing safeguarding programs or perhaps you’re considering a future program, we’re here to listen, to understand your needs, and to share best practice considerations to help. Our LEGO GROUP customer story demonstrates just one example of how we’ve been able to help safeguard children, you can read more here.

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.