There was a time when fewer women were in the workforce – they stayed home and raised a family – and men might be considered for promotion based on their stable family life (check out the 1954 movie Executive Suite). Employment investigations had yet to become commonplace.
Figures from the U.S. Department of Labor show that working women in 1950 numbered:
- 43.9% for 16 to 24 year olds
- 34.0% for 25 to 34 year olds
- 39.1% for 35 to 44 year olds
- 37.9% for 45 to 54 year olds
- 27.0% for 55 to 64 year olds
Nowadays, not only do more women work outside the home, inquiring about an employee’s or job applicant’s personal information – such as gender – is strictly against the law.
Enter social media – where the sky is the limit. Online information about employees and candidates is in abundance, and employers are interested in finding out more.
According to the social media screening and research company Social Intelligence, 79% of hiring managers and recruiters in the U.S. admit reviewing online information about job applicants, while 69% rejected candidates based on what they found.
The concern, naturally, is that taboo information about an applicant’s race, religion, marital or family status, and more might be discerned by glancing though social websites. This is all private information illegal to use when making a decision about whether or not to hire or promote someone.
That is why in June 2011, the Fair Credit Report Act (FCRA) stated:
…companies selling background reports must take reasonable steps to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of what’s reported from social networks and that it relates to the correct person. They have to comply with other FCRA sections, too — like providing copies of reports to people and having a process in place if people dispute what’s said about them in a report.
According to QSRweb.com, a quick-service restaurant marketing company, employers who choose to use social media in their employment investigations should use a third-party employment-screening firm and:
…know if your employment-screening partner can certify compliance with FCRA, how it will extract “protected class” information, and if it will mine for both positive and negative behaviors.