Every business wants to be secure. No business wants to lose money. To offset the current and future threats to security or capital loss, modern businesses large and small spend tens of thousands, even millions, installing video cameras and metal detectors. They hire security guards and order employees to carry identity cards. They monitor activities and wrap barbed wire around the parking lot.
From a technological standpoint there is no end to efforts to secure data files and proprietary content. No industry lives without fear of crackers and hackers, vying to steal vital computer codes, bank accounts, and credit card information. In response, myriad companies are producing their versions of data security applications. They develop firewalls, passwords, encryption codes and spyware protection applications. Meanwhile, far too many companies have failed to take the first and most obvious step in protecting their business from theft and abuse. They have failed to order even basic pre-employment background checks on their job candidates. Despite all precautions, they have created a situation where the menace lurks within. And that menace may be (greater than all other threats combined.
I recall my conversation many moons ago with the notorious international jewel thief, Albie Baker. At the time I was doing the book tour for “Stolen Sweets, ” Albie’s autobiography. While driving around from one media interview to another he pointed out the fancy mansions in Beverly Hills he had burglarized some twenty years before.
“It was so easy, ” he said. “Back then, they would spend all their bucks on securing their front doors. But the back doors and maid’s entrances were secured only with a simple lock. I used to open them with a screwdriver. ”
Too many companies are following the same senseless pattern as Albie’s victims. They are spending all that money on physical and technical security, and yet they are trying to save a couple of bucks by failing to conduct pre-employment background checks. They are leaving not just the back door open but the front door as well, for workplace violence, embezzlement, data theft, *** harassment, and drug and alcohol abuse. Some companies are so careless they have hired candidates without knowing if they were felons, perverts or diligent workers.
To make this point, CBS News recently ran a special feature where it had one of its people apply for the Santa Clause gig at five different malls in Los Angeles. The catch was that instead of using his real name the CBS employee assumed the identity of an actual convicted felon and sex offender. The man he was impersonating was a convicted pedophile and was registered along with the 63,000 others in California on what is commonly known as “Meagan’s List. ” His nefarious past and questionable present were not what you call a deep secret.
Nevertheless, all five companies hired this man to be Santa Claus. As caretakers and de facto protectors of the thousands of kids who come to the malls every Christmas season they provided the lap of a pedophile as the place for your children to sit. Can you think of a better way to ruin the holidays? For your kid? Forever? In defense of their actions, one man claimed he ran the applicant through a free pre-employment background check. The others commenced to shucking and jiving, issuing an assortment of lame excuses.
Considering that drug and alcohol abusers cost businesses and estimated $100 Billion annually, you would think every business would take the precaution of mandating pre-employment background checks. Add to this sad statistic that employee theft costs American businesses between $60 and $120 Billion, annually and is the cause of thirty percent of the business failures. It has been estimated that replacing the wrong hire can cost the employer up to 24 times his or her annual salary. I’m sure you can guess if it’s the drug and alcohol abusers or the sober and diligent employees who are the cause of most accidents and the most violence in the workplace. The statistics go on, the costs mount up, the risks are heightened.
Yet there are still some decision makers who don’t see the importance of conducting pre-employment background checks. And if they do conduct pre-employment background screenings, they try to cut corners and cheap it up, rather than obtain a really comprehensive background report. Not only are they doing themselves a disservice they are doing the same to their own employees.
The early loss of the French to the Germans in the Second World War has been attributed to the French misconceptions of its “Maginot Line. ” The Maginot Line was a formidable series of fortifications, bunkers, artillery, considered impregnable to assault. Perhaps it would have been the case has the Maginot Line been pointed in the right direction. But as with Albie Baker’s quarry in Beverly Hills, the Maginot Line was constructed to protect the front door. However, the Germans came through the back door and defeated the French military in short order. It could be said, “They opened it with a screwdriver. ”
The simple lesson to all of this, is let history and Albie Baker dictate that you should never overlook the most obvious place that your are vulnerable to theft and disaster. Sure data security, video cameras and security guards may all be necessary, but don’t allow your business to be another Maginot Line. Common sense dictates, if you want security then address the area where you are the most vulnerable. Considering shrinkage, the risk of lawsuits and countless liability issues, pre-employment background checks are extremely cost effective.
Remember-Check Them Out Before You Hire.
Gordon Basichis is the author of the best selling Beautiful Bad Girl, the Vicki Morgan Story, a non-fiction novel that helped define exotic sexuality in the late twentieth century. He is also the author of The Constant Travellers, a sci-fi fantasy Western. The first chapter of Basichis’ new book Spook, a Roman A'Clef detailing Chinese Espionage in the United States, is featured in a forthcoming anthology, Sleeping with Snakes, Notes from the Los Angeles Underbelly.
A professional marketing executive, Basichis is also co-founder of Corra, which as the Corra Group specializes in pre-employment and online dating background checks, as well as corporate research and investigation.