CUSTOMER STORY: Amnesty International

Amnesty International

I am delighted to be working with Sterling. It is clear that they absolutely understand the requirements of Amnesty International and, by taking a true partnership approach to their work, have ensured that we have a robust screening programme in place that makes Amnesty a safer place to work for our employees, volunteers and those we work with around the world."
- Sharon Jacques, Head of International Recruitment, Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people. The members-led, non-governmental organisation helps fight abuses of human rights worldwide through detailed research and determined campaigning. The organisation was awarded the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize for its ‘defence of human dignity against torture’ and the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights in 1978.

Key Highlights

As a global organisation with complex requirements, Amnesty International was keen to identify a screening partner who would understand, interpret and meet their specific needs. Sterling was able to free up their HR resource, while providing an improved candidate experience through a culturally relevant and timely screening process. Sterling not only had the technology to deliver on all of this, but they had expert knowledge on best practice relating to issues such as data and global search compliance.

Business Challenges

Obtaining candidate references in the past had taken different paths, with both the recruitment function and the hiring manager at Amnesty International working to compile references they believed were acceptable. While this process was considered fit for purpose, a significant security breach occurred in one of Amnesty’s regional offices, so it was vital to ensure this would never happen again. They also had specific challenges that had to be taken into consideration. For example, it was important that checks were culturally relevant as they work globally; plus, global background checks can be a pain point for many international organisations as they’re often complex and time consuming. Similarly, manually obtaining references in places like Dakar in Senegal or Lima in Peru is often not a straightforward task.


Sterling worked closely with Sharon Jacques, Head of International Recruitment at Amnesty, to establish and implement a robust and timely pre-employment background check programme, and take the burden away from Amnesty’s HR function. Relevant Amnesty team members were introduced to Sterling and their user-friendly platform. The different candidate roles at Amnesty were discussed and required background checks were included in packages for these roles. Not only did this ensure best practice, it meant that checks would be consistent across the organisation for each role going forward. Regular account reviews with a dedicated account manager also took place, which continue today. According to Sharon, moving to an outsourced model was smooth, and the implementation process was swift.


Since Amnesty International partnered with Sterling in January 2017, over 380 candidates have been checked. This equates to literally hundreds of hours saved by Amnesty’s HR team in obtaining criminal record checks or chasing job references from across the world. In addition, by working with Sterling to fine-tune their screening processes, Amnesty has improved the candidate experience by reducing their time-to-hire dramatically. Previously, the average time outside of the UK was around 15 days – it is now an average of just five days. Plus, candidate screening is now consistent and compliant across all locations.

Key Features

Time-to-hire has been reduced by 10 days on average Candidate screening is now consistent and compliant no matter which region the employee may be working in Outsourcing to Sterling has enabled Amnesty’s HR team to focus on other priorities.

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