Case 1: To Cyber-Vet or Not to Cyber-Vet: An Ethics Question for HRM
The rapid change in technology which is the hallmark of the workplace in the twenty-first century has given rise to unique challenges to Human Resource (HR) Management, not least in the frontline interaction with the outside world such as recruitment and selection. Applicant vetting may go beyond a reference check as technology now gives professionals access to much more information than ever before. For example, as prospective employees as well as applicants often have both personal and professional social network accounts, HR practice has to be expanded from what is possible to what is ethically and morally appropriate – especially when the law is one step behind these rapid changes. In other words, the amount and accuracy of the information that is submitted for the position by applicants is not the main issue anymore. An important concern regards the extent to which HR professionals and other individuals involved in recruitment and selection seek out information online to obtain further information via means (such as websites and social media) that cross both legitimate and ethical boundaries. The following overview and learning exercise provides an opportunity for students to learn and reflect on these issues. We conclude the sections with two lists, one for references cited in the overview and another that includes additional reading suggestions.
- Appel, E. J. (2015). Cybervetting: Internet searches for vetting, investigations, and open-source intelligence (2nd ed.). Boca Raton: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
- Berkelaar, B. L., & Buzzanell, P. M. (2014). Cybervetting, person–environment fit, and personnel selection: Employers’ surveillance and sensemaking of job applicants’ online information. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 42(4), 456–476. https://doi.org/10.1080/00909882.2014.954595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Greenwood, M., & de Cieri, H. (2005, July). Stakeholder theory and the ethics of Human Resource Management (Monash University Working Paper 47/05). Department of Management Working Paper Series, 1–17.Google Scholar
- Hedenus, A., & Backman, C. (2016, April 20–23). Explaining your data double: Confessions honesty and trust in job requirements. Proceedings of the 7th Biannual Surveillance and Society Conference, Barcelona, Spain. Available at: http://www.ssn2016.net/?page_id=1383. Accessed 10 June 2016.
- Holland, P. (2015). Codes of conduct: making things clear is better than ‘keeping it real: The conversation, 24th April.Google Scholar
- Pallarito, K. (2014). Training for social situations; Educate workers on social media advantages, pitfalls. Post published on April 14th on Business Insurance, 48, p. 0016.Google Scholar
- Smith, A. (2016). Old Chipotle social media policy was unlawfully vague. Blog post published on August 26th on SHRM. Available at: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/labor-relations/pages/chipotle-outdated-policy-vague.aspx
- Wright, A. D. (2016). Fired for facebooking: Nasty political posts could cost employees their jobs. Blog post published on September 26th on SHRM. Available at: https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/technology/Pages/Fired-for-Facebooking-Nasty-Political-Posts-Could-Cost-Employees-Their-Jobs.aspx
Further Student Reading on Ethical and Moral Dilemmas in the HR Domain
- Acikgoz, Y., & Bergman, S. M. (2016). Social media and employee recruitment: Chasing the runaway bandwagon. In B. R. Landers & G. B. Schmidt (Eds.), Social media in employee selection and recruitment. Theory, practice, and current challenges (pp. 175–195). Cham: Springer International Publishing.Google Scholar
- Waring, R. L., & Buchanan, F. R. (2010). Social networking web sites: The legal and ethical aspects of pre-employment screening and employee surveillance. Journal of Human Resources Education, 4(2), 14–23.Google Scholar