“It’s better to check twice and do once,” is a phrase we’ve all heard in some variation, but regardless of how you’ve heard these words the message is clear: make sure you’re doing the right thing before you do it so that you don’t have to go back and repeat your work or fix the mistakes that were easily avoidable. And when it comes to hiring assessments in your talent acquisition process, these words cannot be taken seriously enough. Checking and double-checking on your pre-hire assessments not only ensure that you’re getting the results you hope for (better candidates, longer retention, higher performance) but that you’re also preventing any problems that could be detrimental to your organization.
One of these main issues is hiring discrimination – a concept that strikes fear into the hearts of hiring managers everywhere, and with good reason. Hiring discrimination is something no company wants to go through, and a recent case against Target Corp. is a good reminder of what can happen when you aren’t diligent with ensuring the integrity of your hiring assessments.
This past August, Target agreed to take care of charges levied against them by the EEOC by paying out $2.8 million. This payout would be distributed to more than 3,000 individuals who were, according to the EEOC, “disproportionately screened out applicants [applying] for exempt-level professional positions.”
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to Target’s assessments violating Title VII, Target also used an assessment which went against the American with Disabilities Act by requiring applicants to take a medical examination in order to receive an offer. And, with all that, Target also did not properly keep track of and maintain applicant records. This violation is serious because it resulted in the EEOC not being able to properly evaluate the impact these discriminatory assessments and practices had on their talent acquisition processes.
So why bring this up now, almost four full months after this? Because the short term losses, while incredibly detrimental, can pale in comparison to the long term impacts that these oversights can have on an organization.
Target had been using these assessments for a decade, according to an official statement from spokeswoman Molly Snyder, and while she stated that only a “small fraction” of these pre-hire assessments could have been an issue, the reality is there’s no real way of knowing because of the lack of record keeping in the assessment process. The fact that these assessments were in place for a decade compounds that issue further.
But consider looking forward from that situation: you have now lost a decade to hiring assessments that caused discriminatory hiring, and your record keeping was not up to par so you have no way of pinpointing information. This makes adjusting these assessments to ensure they’re testing only on job-essential functions much harder. That’s not to mention you now lose out on a decade of data, so you must now build information for talent analytics from scratch, despite having the opportunity to have done so over the past ten years. Those issues can be worked on in four months, but they cannot be completely solved.
And that's the new issue Target - or any organization - will be facing if they don't care of the integrity of their hiring assessments. It's no secret by now that talent analytics is a key driver in not only finding the best talent out there, but also building a strategy to ensure you keep improving the talent you hire. But those analytics and reports are only as good as the data you're using, and if your data is contaminated by your own assessments for whatever reason you won't be making informed hiring or business decisions. What's worse, you'll be building information on a foundation that ultimately will need to be discarded, forcing you to start over.
How can you avoid this? By making sure you understand exactly what you're using to ensure it's integrity - not just for discrimination concerns, but also for the sake of talent analytics. If you're not sure, check once, check again, and check a third time. You can never be too careful - this is your talent you're hiring for your organization after all.