Category Archives: Employment Screening

Diversity in Public Sector Hiring Report, 2021

Source: NEOGOV, 2021

From the beginning of 2018 to the end of 2019, we analyzed millions of recruitments through our applicant tracking system that serves city, county, and state governments across the country. Analyzing 16 million applicants by race and ethnicity and 17.4 million applicants by gender, we sought to identify where the drop-offs took place throughout the recruitment process by race, ethnicity, and gender.
• Diverse candidates are well-represented in government, but Black candidates have to apply at a significantly higher rate to maintain that representation
• White candidates are always hired above their application percentage, while Black candidates are always hired below their application percentage
• Eligible Black female applicants are 39% less likely to be interviewed and, once interviewed, are 31% less likely to be hired than eligible White male applicants
• Black females were 26% more likely to be interviewed and 33% more likely to be hired when PII blinding was used. When interviewers use a scoring rubric, Black females are 21% more likely to be hired.

Social Media Checks Can Bring Bias Into Hiring

Source: Matt Shipman, Futurity, March 4, 2021

The way human resources professionals review online information and social media profiles of job candidates highlights how so-called “cybervetting” can introduce bias and moral judgment into the hiring process.

Related:
The hunt for red flags: cybervetting as morally performative practice
Source: Steve McDonald, Amanda K Damarin, Hannah McQueen, Scott T Grether, Socio-Economic Review, Advance Articles, Published: February 10, 2021
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Cybervetting refers to screening job candidates by evaluating information collected from internet searches and social media profiles. Relatively little is known about how organizational actors use this practice in hiring decisions. Interviews with 61 human resource (HR) professionals reveal that they cybervet in order to minimize hiring risks and maximize organizational fit. Their judgments are deeply rooted in assessments of job candidates’ moral character and how it might affect workplace interactions. Because it involves the construction of moral criteria that shape labor market actions and outcomes, we describe cybervetting as a morally performative practice. HR professionals express enthusiasm for cybervetting, but also concerns about privacy, bias and fairness. Importantly, cybervetting practices and policies vary substantially across different types of organizations. These findings deepen our understanding of how organizational actors define and regulate moral behavior and how their actions are moderated by market institutions.

Addressing Artificial Intelligence-Based Hiring Concerns

Source: Dave Zielinski, HR Magazine, Summer 2020

The honeymoon is over for the use of artificial intelligence in human resources. The introduction of a bevy of new artificial intelligence (AI) tools by industry vendors over the past few years was met with a buzz, and it was embraced by HR practitioners seeking to use machine-learning algorithms to bring new efficiencies to recruiting, employee engagement, shared services, learning and development, and other areas of HR.

But as the use of AI has grown, it has attracted more attention from regulators and lawmakers concerned about fairness and ethical issues tied to the technology. Chief among those concerns are a lack of transparency in the way that many AI vendors’ tools work—namely that too many still function as “black boxes” without an easily understood explanation of their inner workings—and that machine-learning algorithms can perpetuate or even exacerbate unconscious bias in hiring decisions.

Hiring Challenges Confront Public-Sector Employers

Source: Mike Ramsey, SHRM, All Things Work, February 15, 2020

Only a few years ago, applying for a job with the Pennsylvania state government could be a daunting process. Posted jobs had vague, bureaucratic titles like “Administrative Officer 1.” Applicants had to take written exams at a testing center. Some waited months for a civil service commission to respond by mail before they could interview. Many had moved on by then. …. Things changed in early 2019, after state lawmakers agreed to streamline the 1940s-era system. Now, Walsh’s agency oversees a centralized website, where job seekers apply for positions that are more clearly defined. Testing and scoring is folded into the online application process, which administrators track closely. ….

Thick Red Tape and the Thin Blue Line: A Field Study on Reducing Administrative Burden in Police Recruitment

Source: Elizabeth Linos, Nefara Riesch, Public Administration Review, Volume 80 Issue 1, January/February 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Police departments struggle to recruit officers, and voluntary drop‐off of candidates exacerbates this challenge. Using four years of administrative data and a field experiment conducted in the Los Angeles Police Department, the authors analyze the impact of administrative burden on the likelihood that a candidate will remain in the recruitment process. Findings show that reducing friction costs to participation and simplifying processes improve compliance, as behavioral public administration would predict. Applicants who were offered simpler, standardized processes completed more tests and were more likely to be hired. Later reductions to perceived burden led to an 8 percent increase in compliance, with a 60 percent increase in compliance within two weeks. However, removing steps that would have allowed for better understanding of eligibility kept unqualified candidates in the process for longer, reducing organizational efficiency. These results extend the field’s understanding of how administrative burden can impact the selection of talent into government.

Evidence for Practice
– Simplifying recruitment processes is associated with a reduction in voluntary drop‐offs in police recruitment.
– Removing stages in the process that allow for better self‐evaluation may increase learning costs, shifting unqualified candidates to later stages in the selection process.
– Participation in expedited testing, in which applicants can complete more than one assessment per day, is correlated with higher persistence through the recruitment process and higher applicant quality.

Getting In, Getting Hired, Getting Sideways Looks: Organizational Hierarchy and Perceptions of Racial Discrimination

Source: Adia Harvey Wingfield, Koji Chavez, OnlineFirst, Published January 2, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article argues that black workers’ perceptions of racial discrimination derive not just from being in the minority, but also from their position in the organizational structure. Researchers have shown that black individuals encounter an enormous amount of racial discrimination in the workplace, including but not limited to exclusion from critical social networks, wage disparities, and hiring disadvantages. But fewer studies examine the extent to which black workers believe racial discrimination is a salient factor in their occupational mobility or the factors that might explain their divergent perceptions of racial discrimination. Based on 60 in-depth interviews with black medical doctors, nurses, and technicians in the healthcare industry, we show that black workers’ status within an organizational hierarchy fundamentally informs perceptions of the nature and type of workplace racial discrimination. These findings have implications for understanding how racial dynamics at work are linked to mental health, occupational satisfaction, and organizational change.

Uneven Patterns of Inequality: An Audit Analysis of Hiring-Related Practices by Gendered and Classed Contexts

Source: Jill E Yavorsky. Social Forces, Volume 98, Issue 2, December 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Despite women’s uneven entrances into male-dominated occupations, limited scholarship has examined whether and how employers in different occupational classes unevenly discriminate against women during early hiring practices. This article argues that intersecting gendered and classed features of occupations simultaneously shape hiring-related practices and generate uneven patterns of inequality. Using data derived from comparative white-collar (N = 3,044 résumés) and working-class (N = 3,258 résumés) correspondence audits and content-coded analyses of more than 3,000 job advertisements, the author analyzes early hiring practices among employers across two gendered occupational dimensions: (1) sex composition (male- or female-dominated jobs) and (2) gender stereotyping (masculinized or feminized jobs, based on the attributes that employers emphasize in job advertisements). Broadly, findings suggest a polarization of early sorting mechanisms in which discrimination against female applicants is concentrated in male-dominated and masculinized working-class jobs, whereas discrimination against male applicants at early job-access points is more widespread, occurring in female-dominated and feminized jobs in both white-collar and working-class contexts. Interestingly, discrimination further compounds for male and female applicants—depending on the classed context—when these occupational dimensions align in the same gendered direction (e.g., male-dominated jobs that also have masculinized job advertisements). These findings have implications for the study of gender and work inequality and indicate the importance of a multidimensional approach to hiring-related inequality.

Writing in Race: Evidence against Employers’ Assumptions about Race and Soft Skills

Source: Jessi Streib, Jane Rochmes, Felicia Arriaga, Carlos Tavares, Emi Weed, Social Problems, Advance Access, October 9, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Hiring managers and segments of the American public believe that white, black, and Hispanic job-seekers present distinct soft skills to employers. Sociologists have not tested this belief and provide competing theories about whether it is likely to be true. Structural theories maintain that different resources and networks inhibit racial groups from displaying similar non-technical skills and experiences, while cultural approaches posit that all groups can access and display a variety of soft skills. Based on a content analysis of 1,124 applications that white, black, and Hispanic job-seekers used to apply for the same job, we find little evidence supporting the belief in racial distinctions in soft skills. Instead, white, black, and Hispanic applicants in our sample presented the same top reasons for applying, the same top personal characteristics, the same top college activities, and were equally likely to follow professional norms. We discuss the generalizability of our findings and their implications for theories of access to these skills.

L&E Evolution Part III: Managing Employees in a Digital Age

Source: Lorene D. Park, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 70 no. 2, Summer 2019
(subscription required)

The expectation that business will be done electronically, the trend toward paperless records, and ongoing advances in technology have birthed so many legal issues that, for employers, compliance may seem impossible.

For example, much was made of the promise of using artificial intelligence to screen job applicants, but it emerged that AI can both learn and perpetuate human biases that may violate Title VII. And using online employment agreements also may result in litigation over whether an employee “clicked” on a screen to agree.

What follows is an overview of key issues that have emerged for employers, organized around the lifespan of an employment relationship. We’ll start with the hiring process, covering accessibility, screening methods, electronic agreements, and more. Then we’ll cover computer use policies, trade secrets, wiretapping and electronic privacy statutes, data breach notification, social media, NLRA protections, and other issues that arise during the employment relationship. We’ll wrap with a discussion on privacy, including surveillance of employees, as well as issues surrounding termination of employment.

The Invisible Web of Work: The Intertwining of A-I, Electronic Surveillance, and Labor Law

Source: Richard A. Bales, Katherine V.W. Stone, UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 19-18, Last revised: June 30, 2019

From the abstract:
Employers and others who hire or engage workers to perform services use a dizzying array of electronic mechanisms to make personnel decisions about hiring, worker evaluation, compensation, discipline, and retention. These electronic mechanisms include electronic trackers, surveillance cameras, metabolism monitors, wearable biological measuring devices, and implantable technology. These tools enable employers to record their workers’ every movement, listen in on their conversations, measure minute aspects of performance, and detect oppositional organizing activities. The data collected is transformed by means of artificial intelligence (A-I) algorithms into a permanent electronic resume that can identify and predict an individual’s performance as well as their work ethic, personality, union proclivity, employer loyalty, and future health care costs. The electronic resume produced by A-I will accompany workers from job to job as they move around the boundaryless workplace. Thus A-I and electronic monitoring produce an invisible electronic web that threatens to invade worker privacy, deter unionization, enable subtle forms of employer blackballing, exacerbate employment discrimination, render unions ineffective, and obliterate the protections of the labor laws.

This article describes the many ways A-I is being used in the workplace and how its use is transforming the practices of hiring, evaluating, compensating, controlling, and dismissing workers. It then focuses on four areas of law in which A-I threatens to undermine worker protections: anti-discrimination law, privacy law, antitrust law, and labor law. Finally, this article maps out an agenda for future law reform and research.