Behind the Screens: Bringing the Right People Together Across Latin America

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At HireRight, our passion is helping employers to hire the right candidates for the right opportunities. We know that employers all over the world are seeing huge benefits to adding background screening to their talent acquisition strategies, including a better quality of hire, and improving candidate experience. However, the inclination for screening programs varies widely from region to region.

For example, according to HireRight’s 2020 Global Benchmark Report, around 95% of candidates in the U.S. are screened prior to hiring, while in other parts of the world that rate is below 25%.  So, what drives background screening in different regions around the world?

Our Behind the Screens blog series has been exploring the regional nuances and people behind our background screening solutions. In this latest installment, we’re taking a trip to Latin America to meet our local HireRight team and take a closer look at their work. In these next blogs, we’ll pull back the curtain, and let you see into the “backstage” of background screening in this unique region.

I first joined HireRight in 2008 as Director of Drug and Health Screening, then later served as a Global Solutions Specialist. Currently, I lead HireRight’s Latin American team. My interest in Latin America developed when I spent a few years living in Argentina. When not at home in Los Angeles, you’re most likely to find me either working with our customers and partners in the region, or perhaps celebrating Dia de los Muertos in Mexico City or reveling at Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. But now, I am thrilled to take you behind the screens for a closer look at HireRight in Latin America!

Members of the HireRight Latin America Team, including Ryan Christensen (at right)

Getting to Know Latin America

Latin America is one of the most exciting regions in the world. Few people realize that this region is the most urbanized continent in the world with most people living in cities – that’s over 650 million residents!

The region consists of 20+ countries, plus over a dozen independent territories. Don’t forget that although Mexico is part of North America, it is grouped within Latin America given its colonial roots, language (Spanish), and other cultural elements.  The region is rich in diversity and linguistics. In fact, there are three dominant languages spoken: Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Although Latin America is home to numerous countries and territories, they are all quite different! Each varies one to the next with their own culture, language, regulations (or lack, thereof) and other unique nuances.

Many U.S. and Canadian companies begin their international growth strategies by expanding just over the border into Mexico and other Latin American nations.

Background screening for employment purposes in Latin America is still a relatively new, but quickly growing concept. Although it historically has been common to include a physical visit to a candidate’s home, often without prior approval or knowledge from the individual, this practice could be interpreted as excessively invasive, potentially discriminatory, and appears to be falling out of fashion. However, some distrust lingers, and “background checks” are sometimes still seen as an investigative process. For these reasons, the term “information verification” is often used in lieu of “background check” in the region, to assure candidates that the employer is just verifying information to be true and accurate, not an investigative process.

Currently, we are seeing employers across Latin America using more conventional methods of employee screening, including vendor software and services, making it a more universally accepted practice. We are seeing that organizations of all sizes are screening their candidates to some extent across various industries including manufacturing, technology, oil and gas, and financial services. Legislation or regulations specific to background checks are noticeably absent across the region – although local or federal labor laws often define and dictate what is permissible and what would be discriminatory when reviewing candidates for employment. Preventing and avoiding discrimination within the employee selection process is often a top concern for employers hiring in region. For this and other reasons, it is common practice among employers to initiate a background check before any offer of employment is made to the candidate, unlike their American and UK counterparts.

Background Screening Approaches for Latin America

When it comes to screening candidates in Latin America, there is no such thing as a “one-size fits all” solution or approach.  A prospective employer should always consider the nature of the position/role and include only those elements of a background check that are relevant and proportional to the scope of responsibilities of that role.  This is often referred to as the “Principle of Proportionality.”

This approach helps to safeguard against screening in “excess” relative to what is actually proportional for the candidate’s role. For example, include a search of credit/financial records only if that information is directly relevant to the role in question, such as in accounting and finance, or for positions that require having access to money, or handling other sensitive data, such as credit card information. Fortunately, with our global screening technology at HireRight, we are able to customize each screening program to meet employers’ requirements or expectations.

From a regulation perspective, there is a general lack of legislation that speaks directly to pre-employment screening. As proscribed by country-specific labor laws, employers are typically extra cautious and sensitive to ensure that there is no element of discrimination within the candidate selection process.

For an overview of data protection and impacts to screening in Latin America, check out our Latin America Data Privacy e-Book, (also available in Spanish and Portuguese)

Additionally, several countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico have rolled out other legislative measures known as “Corporate Criminal Liability/Clean Companies Acts,” which encourage organizations to implement internal controls with the aim of preventing the employment of individuals who could generate risk to a company’s integrity and brand.

What’s Next for HireRight in Latin America

Finally, in other exciting news, HireRight is officially launching a new legal entity, HireRight Mexico, S. de R.L., in Q3 of 2021! This initiative has been a long time coming as we continue to scale our ability to support our customers. Soon, customers will be able to contract locally with HireRight in Mexico, which can make it easier to partner together. Look for more updates coming soon!

In my experience, doing business effectively in Latin America comes down to one thing: the strength of personal relationships. We support our clients with our talented, expert team in the region, from the region! Our team of experienced Account Managers and Sales Professionals are based in Mexico City, and enjoy spending time face-to-face working with our customers and new prospects all over the continent! Given the global pandemic, we’ve had to pause on those activities, but are looking forward to getting back to business as usual and visiting with our customers in person again soon.

Stay tuned, readers, to hear from our regional team for future installments of Behind the Screens Latin America. In the meantime, I encourage you to also go behind the screens in APAC in our previous series.

Ryan Christensen

Ryan Christensen

As the Director of Account Management for Latin America, Ryan is responsible for client support, building customer relationships, and driving HireRight’s growth across the region. Ryan’s interest in Latin America developed when he spent time living in Argentina. After returning to the U.S., he earned a degree in Communication from the University of Utah in 2000. When not at home in Los Angeles, you’re most likely to find him somewhere “south of the border” working with our customers and partners, or perhaps celebrating Día de los Muertos in Mexico City or reveling at Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.

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