The Impact of Ban the Box on Your Current Screening Process

More than one in four Americans has a criminal record.

In our country, 28 percent of our population has committed a crime and 65 million Americans have to check ‘Yes’ to the criminal history box on an application. The implication of that check has serious consequences as studies show the most hiring discrimination, 76 percent, takes place when an application is reviewed for the first time.

Due to the high number of Americans with criminal backgrounds, there has been a groundswell of support over the past few years to “ban the box” on criminal background checks and these efforts have been very successful. As of 2016, 19 states and more than 100 cities had laws in place to “ban the box” and more are expected to follow.

The specifics of the “ban the box” laws vary by state and city, but at its core, the legislation prohibits organizations from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until later in the interview process.

Advocates for the legislation argue that many employers won’t even consider an applicant with any criminal background, no matter how long ago the offense occurred or what it was. One study looked at 192,000 help wanted ads in Virginia and found that out of those ads, just under 16,000 would even consider an applicant with a criminal record.

Additionally, research has revealed our belief that a person with a criminal record is more likely to commit a crime than the general population. Instead, three years after a crime is committed, a person with no criminal record is as likely to commit a crime as someone with a record.

To me, that statistic unveils a very simple, but overlooked, fact for all organizations to understand – anyone can commit a crime at any time.

Whether an employee has been with a company for five days or five years, their risk can change overnight, and you may not even know about it. Consider that risk evolves with life – an arrest, a lawsuit or alarming financial behavior can be warning signs, which many companies miss because they don’t screen current employees or only re-screen at periodic intervals such as annually.

In the past, the notion of re-screening employees on a daily basis felt impossible. But advances in software mean that continuous risk monitoring can be automated in real-time by analyzing public records data, such as arrest records. In tandem with a pre-hire background screen, it is a critical piece in keeping every organization and employee safe.

When one organization with more than 30,000 employees and contractors moved to a continuous risk monitoring model, they uncovered 11 felony arrests, five drug-related arrests, and, stunningly, one multiple sex offender in only three months. If the organization had not done so, they would’ve unknowingly employed those recently charged with serious crimes. These are employees that passed a background check yet committed a crime after employment.

Pre-hire background checks are a great first line of defense for any organization. However, by implementing continuous risk monitoring, they can develop a more complete approach to the screening process and vastly reduce the risk from current and future employees.

The threat posed to an organization from job applicants is not as great as from current employees. As new “ban the box” laws are passed, all organizations should take the opportunity to move their screening process forward, by focusing less on the past and more on the present.

Bio: Raj Ananthanpillai is the CEO of IDentrix, which launched in April 2015. He is also the chairman, president and CEO of InfoZen, a title he has held since 2004. Previously, he served as the Chief Strategy Officer of ePlus, Inc. (NASDAQ: PLUS), a business process automation and financial services company, responsible for technology, marketing, analyst relations and business strategy. Prior to that, he was the president and CEO of NetBalance, a venture capital backed multi-million dollar Software Company, which was successfully sold in 2000.

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