The hiring and retention of sexual predators by major US companies has become a central focus of the media as of late and the question to be asked is…What took so long? Companies in a wide array of industries find themselves embroiled in a media frenzy, crushing market value, reputational goodwill and corporate culture.
A recent front-page article
in the Wall Street Journal
highlights how some law firms are allowing predators to enter the highest levels of their firms without properly vetting those individuals. The article can be accessed here
but a WSJ
subscription is required.
The article chronicles how, after hiring a new partner, a major law firm began receiving “thank you” gifts from the female employees of the partner’s previous firm. The article then discusses how law firms routinely fail to properly screen professional staff before exposing dangerous individuals to their employees, clients and assets. Dollars trumping diligence is the bottom line of the story.
When a firm conducts proper candidate vetting, they reduce the risk of these unfortunate situations. Not only does proper vetting prevent such people from being hired, it also shows that the firm takes their hiring process seriously. Even if a former employer will not divulge the problems a candidate caused, a firm is in a far superior position when, in response to a reporter, they can say that they contacted the former employer who never provided a warning, versus a situation where the firm did little or nothing at all.
Bringing on a high-level candidate from another firm can be sensitive and discretion is a must. Many firms now onboard candidates with an express understanding that once hired, their employment is contingent on a check and verification with prior employers. Such a policy will help avoid the situations now reported throughout the media and may even frighten away those characters with a checkered past who have reason to fear such an inquiry.