Prev-employment vetting and background checks should be conducted on a prospective applicant to better understand all of the potential risk of hiring that employee. All new hires come with some risk – that they won’t be a good fit, that they wont thrive in the role, or they may not enjoy the work. These are often covered by typical human resources processes such as CV reviews and interviews. There are however also risks that the person’s past or future behaviour or conduct may be detrimental to the organization and pose a reputation risk. In addition to fit and competency, organizations should conduct a proper background check of a new employee to assess the likelihood and impact of a potential conduct or insider risk issue arising. Proper vetting and due diligence conducted in advance of a hire will save time, money, reputation damage and significant grief in the long term should such a problem arise.
Case Study: The Governor General of Canada
The previous Governor General of Canada was forced to resign following an independent review into reports of a toxic environment and workplace harassment. The cost of the review was reported to be $393,367.13 and the early departure does not disqualify her from a guaranteed annuity of approximately $150,000 she will receive for the rest of her life, nor access to a separate expense account that former GG Adrianne Clarkson has used to spend at least $1.1 million dollars since leaving office in 2005.
What Vetting Was Conducted?
The Prime Minister of Canada is under fire for the process he used to select this Governor General. He disbanded a non-partisan, arms length committee that was created to recommend nominees and recent reporting in the Globe and Mail suggests he proceeded to make this selection without proper vetting or even reference checks.
Due diligence likely would have uncovered a few red flags. Payette had been charged in the United States in 2011 with assault against her then-husband. The charges were dropped. She had accidentally struck and killed a pedestrian in Maryland in 2011. The case was closed without charges in 2012. She left her role as head of the Montreal Science Centre in 2016 in the wake of employees coming forward alleging verbal abuse and similar complaints were made about her when she served on the Canadian Olympic Committee
The aim of pre-employment checks is not to uncover dirt on prospective employee. Due diligence is the exercise of gathering all relevant information to make risk informed hiring decisions. It is clear that the government did not know about Payette’s employment history – which may not be disqualifying for many roles or appointments but may have given them pause for Governor General. The unfortunate result, this episode has tarnished the Institution, The Government and Julie Payette herself, an otherwise accomplished Canadian and dedicated public servant.
A lesson for all employers
Even a small investment in pre-employment checks will save time, money and reputation risk. It is important to have as complete a background of the person as possible when assessing if they are right for the demands and requirements of the role. Not everything will always work out. However, proper vetting will give employees and employers the best chance of success. The situation with Julie Payette was avoidable. Canadians will be paying for it – lets at least learn from it.
If you have any questions or need assistance to with pre-employment screening, due diligence and investigations please get in touch.
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