Bianca Lager is the CEO of Social Intelligence a company that supports organizations in accomplishing compliant screening practices alongside the values-based goals of protecting workplace culture and preventing harassment.
In this episode, Bianca shares her observations and insights into running compliant social media background checks that help with hiring the right people to unlock growth and take the business to the next level.
Some topics we discussed include:
- Is social media screening legal
- What does a compliant social media background check look for/cover
- If the social screening uncovers a stupid off-color post a person made five years ago, they’re doomed
- Why can’t you, as the hiring manager, just conduct the social media check yourself
- If it’s impossible for one person to conduct thorough social media background checks and compliant reviews, how does your solution do it
- If a job applicant’s accounts are private, then what
- Should you consider undertaking ongoing screenings of your employee’s social media activity
- How do we ensure we respect people’s privacy
- Is there a potential for “false positives”
- How can I tell if a social media background checks/screening vendor is any good/conducts compliant screenings
- and much more …
Vinay Koshy 0:00
Bianca, when I first heard the term social intelligence, I thought it had to do with pulling sentiment analysis and other forms of quantitative and qualitative data based on social media profiles of customers or fans of a brand. But then as I have a look at your company and got to speak with you, I begin to understand what social intelligence means. And then again, my my initial thought was, what does this have to do with creating predictable b2b success. But the more I think about it, it's really about hiring the right sort of people. And we're probably all quite aware that hiring the wrong sorts of people can potentially ruin a business, financially and otherwise. But I would think, and this is particularly important in certain sectors, like government, health care and education, but I would think that it you know, diving into social media, background checks, and social intelligence, would be more of a commonplace practice in this day and age. But I get the impression that really isn't the case. Is that so? And if so, why? Why not?
Bianca Lager 1:09
Yeah, thank you so much. So great question. And I love that we caught you with the brand name, you know, we tried to sound very smart, and we fancy ourselves has been so but yes, so social media screening, so to speak, in a broad sense, just the concept of, hey, I need to look at my candidate or my employee online. And so there's actually been many surveys about it. One, within the last couple years was done by careerbuilder. Said 95% of employers are using social media, to research job candidates. The fact of the matter is, everyone's doing it. You know, everyone, you got your keyboard right there. We are googling stuff. We know everything, we are searching through stuff. And so the thing that is changing, we've been around for 10 years, but I will say personally have seen a dramatic change in the last really two to three years. And certainly even within the last six months, which we can talk about is an absolute change of mindset to how do we do this in a proper compliant legal, ethical way? Rather than just trying to kind of spend five minutes and Google around how do we really get our act together? And how does that actually drive the right outcomes? And how do we actually make this an actionable useful piece of data that we can apply to to our company?
Vinay Koshy 2:39
Okay, so it is common, it is a fairly common practice in most situations. But is there I guess, the safeguards and the well defined practices in most of these instances?
Bianca Lager 2:54
No, well, I would say most likely not it's very difficult to to study that well, because a lot of people won't necessarily it's, it's behind closed doors, right. And so the DIY approach is always kind of being done behind closed doors. You know what I can say I did a webinar this morning. We pull folks, hey, what do you do? Most of the time, and I think this morning, the stats was 74%, or something of the poll responders. Were saying, Yeah, you know, we kind of do it unofficially, or I expect it's happening behind my back. Like, you know, these are HR folks talking about other hiring managers, potentially, but we just don't have a formalized process. So a lot of the times, that's who the folks that at social intelligence, who we're talking to who our clients are, who become our clients, because they are trying to get that formalized process together. So I would say that it's still in the high majority of folks that are trying to use social media data and understand that it's there certainly stuff online that you want to know, but a defining really what that is, what are what are the things that you can know, you should know? And what are the useful things, a lot of the stuff that is online, especially on people's social media profiles, has nothing to do with their employment potentially. And of course, there's lots of biased and you know, in the US like we call protected class information, of course, because it is privacy information that is not only not relevant to a job, but is potentially creates a source of discrimination and bias. So so those are the biggest factors. And quite frankly, the folks that haven't gotten their act together, that are still doing it behind closed doors. That's the problem. One of the major problems anyway, is creating that bias and then just looking at a bunch of irrelevant information.
Vinay Koshy 4:47
Hi, and welcome to the predictable b2b success podcast. I'm Vinay Koshy. On this podcast, we interview people behind b2b brands who aren't necessarily famous, but do work in the trenches and share Their strategies and secrets as they progress along the journey of expanding their influence, and making their businesses grow predictably. Now, let's dive into the podcast. So for listeners, and with Bianca lager, who is the CEO, social Intel, you said, You've been around for what, 10 odd years or so. And I know you lectron on similar topics and help out with NGOs, and in the education space as well. But why did you pick social intelligence as as a key area of business? It's something that would come to mind for most people?
Bianca Lager 5:35
Yes, well, personally, social intelligence picked me the way that it happened is I didn't find, I will not a founder of the company, the founder, one of the founders of the company, is someone I knew socially, and had been in my neighbor, actually. And I was recruited essentially along the way in social intelligence is early days in 2011, when she doesn't 10 is when the company launched in 2011, something sort of revolutionary happened to where the Federal Trade Commission actually, which isn't a fun regulatory body to come knocking on your door, but it came knocking on the door to say, hey, What are y'all doing around here. And the concept, really, the reason the company was founded, was the idea of your boss is googling you, or pulling up your Facebook, then, you know, Facebook was still fairly in its infancy. So there's all sorts of information on you back to what I was saying about discrimination. And yet employers have areas of concern that they're concerned about. So you know, how to create a fair process that gets employers the data that they need, but is it creates a system that's fair towards the consumer? And so when the Federal Trade Commission came a knockin, that's exactly what the focus was, is like, Is this right? for consumer reporting? Is this a consumer report? Or what what kind of consumer protections are around? So you know, for the US market, it was very much about, you know, what are the rules? What are the ground rules here around, but the mission of social intelligence has been very clear ever since is to create a compliant and a usable and actionable system, to where companies can implement it quickly and and digest the information? Well, so along the way, as social intelligence is building this industry, and you know, think about how many times you logged into Facebook in 2011, it's probably quite different than how you use social media now, things have changed so much. So along the way, you know, they're looking at online data, assessing risk and helping companies come to the rescue, the insurance agencies came a knockin to say, Hey, can you also look at claim fraud and various types of different data? Sure. Government, US government agencies came a knockin, Hey, can you help us with security background clearances? Sure. social intelligence got extremely divided, they had basically three major divisions, right insurance, employment and government. And a lot of lot of different strategies were happening there. So it's gotten a bit convoluted. And anybody who obviously is in the b2b world can know that that's, for a variety of reasons, less than ideal. So the strategy was to sell off the government parche to a government contractor, license, that kind of information, and then move from spin off essentially the insurance company into its own product and market and our sister company, QRP data, who is run by the founder of original founder of social intelligence, magic Strucker. He's a CEO of QRP data. And, you know, we went out to a neighborly dinner one night, I'm fresh out of business school, and he says, Hey, I want to spin off this company, I want you to run social intelligence, the employment side, and I'm going to go lead the insurance side. And you know, I'm kind of soup halfway to my mouth, like not expecting that kind of conversation to come up at dinner. And so as one does, one says yes, to that kind of question, proposal, I suppose. And so social intelligence very much found me though I had had familiarity with what he was doing, of course, I dove in about five years ago. And so I've led essentially the reinvigoration of social intelligence, his focus in the employment sector, and of course, many changes and a lot of different growth has happened since then, both you know, I would say to my credit, and not to my credit, bigger society situations.
Vinay Koshy 9:35
Excellent. So Max must have seen quite a bit of potential in you. But what would you say is your personal area of strength?
Bianca Lager 9:43
Oh, my goodness, definitely in a variety of different areas. But I think I think I probably just have a dynamic personality that is able to be amendable to leadership roles. Just Sort of naturally, right? There's, there's a sort of natural salesperson in me too. I have a heavy sales and marketing background, pre MBA. And you know, I certainly am an extrovert and love talking to people. But I've always was a person in my corporate roles of the past that ended up sort of, you know, throw me to the wolves. And I come back leading the pack, right, like, it just naturally always happened, and much too many of my bosses, but they didn't make them happy all the time, let me tell you, but I do have some, I think, innate leadership abilities, as I've learned and grown as an actual leader, I think a lot of that has also been a sign of just a drive to find solutions to problems, a drive to really help and support other folks in their career growth. There's really something that I enjoy doing, and something that I really think about a lot and really care about a lot. And so I think the loyalty and the strength of the company that I have continued to build is really based around that is tying those big visionary goals and taking a vision. And then, you know, making sure that the folks that you have around you are bought into that vision, and that their day to day and their job, and their livelihoods are tied to those goals as well. And it's, it's it's a work in progress constantly. But I think that I just I don't know, I'm hashtag blessed, I'm not really sure. But outside of that I've taken a lot of I've done a lot of work to learn, you know, I got a graduate degree, I constantly am consuming content on myself, learning about leadership, learning about career growth, learning about how to hire folks how to, you know, improve their performance. So I think there's a natural curiosity, that's probably probably just a strength of mine as well.
Vinay Koshy 11:59
Sure, in that area of strength, what would you say is something that businesses don't know which should?
Bianca Lager 12:07
Well, in terms of social media, I think that that is there's a really big obvious one, too, if your HR department is googling folks, you should stop that. There's other ways to do it that that you can certainly be concerned. And of course, in the US, we've had a tumultuous year the whole world has, but and certainly with our election and everything that happened in January, with the capital riots, there's definitely been a very big focus on social media content. And so, you know, in thinking about the strengths of your business, and understanding what you do best, most likely, looking at people's information on social media is not one of them. And like most things, when you're considering outsourcing, it has to be something that is simple and adopt easily adoptable, that's not going to create an operational mess, that is going to improve outcomes rather than hinder your operations. And so I would say that, you know, there's very much an opportunity to do that. And I think it's actually a big, good broader lesson in, in in delegation, and understanding what your priorities are, what you're going to accomplish, what your goals and values are, knowing your vision and your company, and what's important to you. And so many of our clients, that vision is definitely tied to their values and their code of conduct and how they expect their brand to be represented how, what kind of pressures they received from consumers. And really just, you know, there's just the underlying an overall overarching theme of living up to our culture and living up to our values. And, and frankly, of course, you know, avoiding that dreaded toxic workplace, you know, that we all desperately try to not create.
Vinay Koshy 14:03
So for for those of us that are trying to wrap our heads around this concept, is this something that would be negotiated, and then I'm talking more about the outcomes or the data that will be provided? Or is it pretty much stock standard set of basic criteria that you would attempt to acquire data on the report?
Bianca Lager 14:25
A great question. So in the early days of social intelligence, it was a free for all. It was like, What do you want to see? What do you want to see and look great, you know, we'll do everything and you can fully customizable and to some degree, there's still a lot of that functionality in terms of customizations because we work with industries for example, that have really specific content needs, they're looking for bad actors in a specific industry type that go in and sort of poison the well so to speak, and all this kind of stuff. So there's there's definitely very unique use cases. Generally speaking, though, what we try to provide for the most part is easily adoptable tool that is benchmarked against what everybody else is doing. Right. So generally speaking, when we're talking about looking at content online, we talk a lot about these four buckets of behaviors that are fairly universal to most folks that are concerned about their workplace culture and workplace productivity, which is intolerance, which includes racism, sexism, kind of this giant bucket of hate speech and all that good stuff, potentially violent, you know, people threatening folks, people actually doing things that are unsafe and threatening other individuals stuff that's potentially illegal. The bet that bucket there, most companies are concerned with drugs theft, sometimes solicitation is in there, marijuana is sort of a it's a controversial one that some clients opt in to some clients opt out of. So that's an example of, you know, sort of how, you know, companies can definitely reflect what their values are. And then the last one is also something that we see some opting in and opting out of which is sexually explicit material. This is actually we see with our global clients as well, there's different cultural norms of acceptability of a particular you know, behavior. So, so I would say that some brands and certainly highly regulated ones, like you kind of mentioned, the finance, healthcare education, like things that are a little more buttoned up, and there's a fiduciary duty or a duty of care towards other folks, some of this stuff is a little bit more important. And other individuals are like, Well, you know, if you post naked pictures of yourself, I'm not that concerned. Some companies are like, No, no, no, we're concerned about that. So there's, there's a variety of stuff there. But yeah, generally speaking, you know, those four things about nail it, as far as you, you know, and I've talked to a lot of customers at this point. And so when you ask them, Hey, what's important to you, when you look at it like that? No, that's that you got it. And then again, you know, there's there's the variety of tweaking that can be done for sure.
Vinay Koshy 17:01
You mentioned that you do this globally. So from a legal standpoint, and in order to avoid bias, what sort of checks and balances are put in place?
Bianca Lager 17:12
Yeah, you know, number one, and first and foremost thing that I talked about a lot is creating a healthy distance between your company and that data that you are looking at that so so that literally the social media profiles of your of your employees, or your potential employees. So that usually it requires a third party of some sort to to be involved here. Generally speaking, I also suggest that folks talk to the people that are doing their other background checks. If you're not a company that does background checks, you know, check out a company that does in you know, for social intelligence, we have been, again, that Federal Trade Commission review, that regulatory body really did kind of take a look at us and say, okay, your consumer reporting agency, just like all the other companies that do criminal background checks that do drug testing, that do all that stuff. So first and foremost, to know that this process is just like that process. They're the same requirements, the same documentation, the same authorizations, you have to get the same process when you're going to take action. And that's actually extremely helpful due to the fact that simply, operationally, if you're already doing a criminal background check, and you sort of kind of add this to the package, it makes the workflow incredibly straightforward, right? So that you're not creating this whole hassle of a policy and Okay, who's gonna look at these reports, and what's gonna happen, and, you know, and how many are coming in, and all this kind of stuff, it's a lot easier to adopt when you already have an established workflow like that. That being said, we work with clients all the time that don't do criminal, but only do social media, because they have some sort of public, you know, reason that that, you know, a lot of entertainment companies, for example, but but but to the point of, you know, the legal aspects of it, no, really, that you know, it wherever you are, there are certainly regulatory bodies that have a say, so in how Consumer Reports are conducted and how people's data data is being accessed, what your limitations are, in terms of what you're looking at what you're not. So the first thing you need to do is make sure you're talking to a professional, who has their act together and you know, is a reputable source of information that has that compliant process down and can help walk you through that and guide you through the process. Certainly,
Vinay Koshy 19:44
So, are you using a mix of human you know, human searching hasn't been searching or is a combination of using human agents as well as AI to fit through the data?
Bianca Lager 19:58
Yes, it's definitely A combination. So artificial intelligence, incredibly important part of the process, incredibly vital to a lot of quick, cheap, fast automation, you know, type tools. It's something you discuss in your podcast a lot, you know, we talk about tech tools in business all the time. And, you know, I think it should put it into a workflow that that makes sense or an explanation that makes the most sense. What our proprietary artificial intelligence platform does, is certainly there's machine learning involved. And there's actually a proprietary method that we've developed and mastered over the past 10 years, that essentially helps us identify folks online footprints. So we are looking to find where you are online, whether it is a Amazon wishlist, you have or it is a Facebook post, or it is, you know, a blog, Bianca lager calm, I don't that doesn't exist, but maybe it could, you know, and and so what we do is, is find those possibilities, and then narrow it down using the information that we know and the information that we discover along the way to positively identify you. That's another big factor in doing it yourself. Are you looking at the right john smith in Los Angeles? Do you got the right guy, maybe that profile picture kind of looks at cam, I think maybe that's his brother, you don't really know a lot of times. So there are definitely ways that we've mastered and the tools that we were allowed to do that. And then we have a secondary part of our platform. And we refer to it as augmented AI a lot. And essentially, what that does is a work platform for our analysts, which whenever we kind of talk about things we have, say, artificial intelligence and human intelligence, right. So you're you're balancing the two things, very cleverly calling them the same thing. But really, you know, I use the comparison of making sure Alexa is doing it right. You know, when you asked her to turn on your bedroom lights and music comes on, it happens, right? So, so the key in social media, and I think anybody who has worked with artificial intelligence tools, who has worked on social media platforms, and for specifically, the use case, that that you're looking at when you're looking at social media screening, is that, you know, companies are very careful about how that data is being used, and exactly how that's being that's happening. So social intelligence takes a lot of pride and great pains into working within the user terms of each social media platform. Also, you know, when you think about social media screening, you think there's some robot doing Command F all day, and finding stuff that is maybe out of context that has been attributed to you falsely. And that's just not the case. And it's certainly not the case. And it could be helpful for an employer to get back a data set that has a bunch of false positives or false negatives. So we work very carefully to make sure that our human analysts have a platform to where they can get through the work quickly, using technology. However, there's always, always, always a couple sets of eyes on every single report that we are producing out. Okay. Yes, excellent.
Vinay Koshy 23:05
So this is a process that you're describing that really saves a lot of time, and energy. And that would be the biggest plus for for most organizations or businesses, I would think, is there an element of education, even though you produce a report and deliver it to a business or an organization in order to help them navigate through the report and ensure that there is less bias involved in the selection? procedure?
Bianca Lager 23:35
Absolutely. Absolutely. So the design of our report is very much designed around a criminal report, you know, many of us have gone through the process we'd hired you sign your disclosures, they run the criminal report on you. Most of the time, in most cases, criminal, most people don't have a criminal record, right. So when it comes back, essentially, the company gets a note back saying, hey, nothing to see here, folks. Right? Those things are pretty straightforward. So we have designed our product to to work within a workflow that is very similar to that. So again, in the early days of social intelligence, and we're like, what do you want to do? What are you gonna say, you know, we would we ended up creating, especially with the government contracting, as one can imagine these massive in depth reports that took hours to look through and all this kind of stuff. So the modern approach really is to provide as concise but insightful information as possible. So if you could imagine it, essentially, when the report comes back, it's visualized in a way that says, hey, we found Bianca here, here, here. And here, if we didn't find any content that match those four major buckets or any of the special buckets that you outlined. So you know, you know, you're all good here. Nothing to see here, folks. But here's the here's our work, we show our work, right, just like a good arithmetic problem. But in the case that there is content that we find that fits those buckets, and so and that's really important. Right, when you're a candidate, you're like, well, what are they going to do? What are you going to show my boss? Well, nothing. If If you don't have risky content, they don't see anything, they don't get a link to your profile, they don't actually take a look at anything, they are entrusting us and our expertise to to let them know and keeping that healthy distance between that biased information. So if there is content, that is, for example, hate speech, or something that is potentially violent, what we do is build, we collect a screenshot of of that, that incident, and we add context to the report to say what year it was, was it? Was it original? Did you type this out? Is it your picture? Or did you reshare? it? Are you just liking something to do? Are you in a group that belongs to potentially, you know, a hate group or or hate symbol or something like that? So that in that context is very important for employers, then to quickly you know, look at the and these reports come back within a business day, right? So it's a pretty quick process, they're able to take a look at and say, okay, you know, hey, we might have a problem here. And, you know, social intelligence provides also adjudication support. And so, you know, what we do is actually provide an offer our clients training program to where they can cut a practice. I mean, how many people have actually seen a social media report, and you know, this is a common thing. So, so it gives you an opportunity to say, Hey, you know, if you saw this picture, and this was upon the report, you know, what's the next step that you take within your organization? Do you tell a supervisor, are you firing that person? Immediately? Are you talking to the candidate First, there's a number of outcomes that can happen. So we help our organizations and our clients formalize that process so that there isn't really a Okay, now what that there is context, there's evidence on here, you don't have to question whether it was correct or not, or whatever. And then you have a formalized process of what to do next. A lot of times what that also involves is potentially is additional information from us. So for example, hate speech, right? When I just say that people are like, Oh, yeah, hate speech. You don't want hate speech? Like if you see submitted candidate hates me. So yeah, make sense. I want to know, what is hate speech? How do you define hate speech? When is it hate speech? And when is it not hate speech? If anything, I think this year of 2020, has really highlighted those questions. And so when you are, you know, out there in the b2b world running a business and you're trying to succeed, well, you know, your clients googling your account rep. And and seeing hate speech, something they can share, as hate speech can be incredibly damaging. But how are you supposed to be on top of that? How are you even supposed to know that that group was a as a hate group, we have something that is called the social intelligence with intolerance database. And what we do is compile legal definitions and set of data that to where we say, Hey, you know, if this is flagged for this reason, this is the data source that it came from, right? Well, social intelligence isn't sitting here saying, we're just calling it hate speech, just to call it hate speech. We it there's legal definitions and actual data sources that we can point to say, you know, this has been defined by hate speech by you know, such and such group,
Vinay Koshy 28:22
but makes a lot of sense. I'm just wondering, with social media posts that you come through, it's one thing to access publicly available sources. But what if a person's using encrypted platforms like signal or telegram? Or perhaps they've made their account private? Are you still able to access or are those flagged as being inaccessible?
Bianca Lager 28:50
Yeah, so if so, what the the, the solution that this our product presents is one, four publicly available information that's available, right. So this is generally how it ends up working. And in practicality we are looking for we're looking for where people live online, we generally find that the majority of folks have about four to six online places where we can identify them and say, Hey, this is where they live in some capacity. Right? Between those four to six profiles, we see a variety of privacy settings. Now, there are situations for example, Twitter, even though a very, very popular platform, right, it's on or off, you're there you there have a public Twitter, you don't Those are some other platforms that you mentioned. Obviously, people have heard parler in the news, Allah, h Chan, all sorts of different places, even Reddit has, you know quite a bit of anonymity on there. So those are places that our requirements for maximum possible identity. That is where the limitation come comes in. Right you you are going to we need to add people to The report that we know is that right john smith that's applying for the job, right? It's it is that person without a doubt. So what this solution isn't doing is, you know, hacking people are finding IP addresses or uncovering their dark web history, this is looking for prevalent publicly available information that your client, your other employees, co workers is there's a special big use case for that are pulling up and saying the stuff that's coming out there. And you know, I will say, though, that being said, it's interesting, even on those anonymous or more anonymous platforms, Reddit is a great example. People are still outing themselves. So we find content on this platforms all the time, you know, and stuff that is flagged. And it's interesting, I think, I think in this we think about this a lot social behavior online, right? How people how, you know, what is the typical way people talk online? What is it? What are the typical behaviors, and a lot of times, of course, you're trying to get followers, you're trying to get attention, you're trying to, you know, whatever you're trying to do, there is a more public part of it. Not everybody has that though, some people are just trying to connect with their friends. And that's that and keep their community safe and private. And most of our clients interpreted that as, you know, great job you're doing, you're doing a great job in respectful and discreet a social media, you know, existence here. And that's, that's where their due diligence can end.
Vinay Koshy 31:35
Yeah, certainly, this is conjuring up a whole bunch of questions. But I guess there are certainly implications if we keep going down this path. And there are all these platforms that are mushrooming that provides greater degrees of secrecy. Yeah, but from a from a person who, who is using social media, irrespective of your standing in in an organization. Yeah, there is almost a lack of social, proper social media education. And that that doesn't exist. So people kind of pick this up, maybe in their teenage years, develop a mindset, which is probably influenced by peers, or anything else. And that kind of carries on into adulthood, where things can come back and bite you. So I guess my first question to you is what happens in the instance, someone made an off color post some years back that violates one of those buckets? Is that just flagged and mentioned? And it's up to the organization to put it in? in context? Or?
Bianca Lager 32:45
Yes, very, the short answer is yes. Right. That's exactly what ends up happening. So in the US, the regulatory limit is going back seven years. And so these reports can have a history up to seven years, which to your point, hey, you know, I was young, what do I know. And we do have some demographic information that, that if you were in the age group of between, I think it's a two axis, but I think I have it here. It's between 18 and 18, and 30. In there's two different separate buckets in there, but essentially, largely 18 and 30, you're more likely to find a flag post on your switch, you know, you're probably more likely to use social media, and you're more likely to post off more often. So the propensity for that to happen is just higher. And I always tell folks, you know, just because the 50 plus demographic isn't happened a lot. There's a quality over quantity situation that happens sometimes. But to your original question, let's call it the needle in the haystack post, right, five years ago, I was young, impressionable. Yes, you know, it would go on the report. And it's very important for us on a priority for us to communicate to our clients when there's a pattern of behavior. And when this is a clearly a one off situation, right. There is also a level of severity, you know, that can be looked at, what is a really good example of this are memes. Right? Someone reshares a meme that think it's funny, and it's about getting high or using drugs in some way. Very common stuff. Is this a pattern of behavior? Do you also share videos of yourself doing drugs? Are you know it? There's there's really important questions to answer there. And so a really important priority for us is to make sure that we are communicating that information to the employer to say this is the one and only one that we ever found that looks like this. Yes, it actually falls within the definition officially. However, you know, that's why we add the content year or the end to say it was a share or reshare. And to give you the one image keeping the reports concise is important too. So let's say there is on the opposite end of the spectrum, repeat offender about 1% Time, we see what we'd like to call the most colorful reports where somebody has a flag in all four buckets. And so what we also think it's important to communicate there is not every single post where they made this same type of offense. But instead, we provide a summary to our clients to say, there's a pattern of behavior here. And it was excessive, or there's a pattern of behavior here. And you know, it was it was repeated, not a lot, but you know, it was repeated, there's, there's, you know, specific ways language in which we use in that way. But what we've heard time and time again, is that's extremely important. Most of the time to a lot of times, especially in really minor things. What is a common practice for employers is either they just sort of keep the report and document it and say, Okay, good to know if we ever need this later. But it's a fairly harmless post. Oh, well, you know, the candidate has an opportunity to get a copy of the report. So there's nothing to be hiding here. This isn't a secret, I have something, some dirt on you that I'm going to use later. It's, it's everybody knows about it, that could happen. Another outcome that could happen is what we hear a lot, especially from DNI leaders, diversity inclusion gets very involved in a lot of these and to say, maybe this is a teachable moment. You know, Vinay, did you know that this tweet that we found from, you know, 2013? Well, 2014 now, right? It would be seven years, did you know that this is, you know, this could violate our code of conduct policy? And let me explain to you why that that is a violation and how that's potentially interpreted as offensive. And a couple of things can happen from there, everybody, you know, video goes, Oh, gosh, thank you. I didn't know I'm so sorry. Right? Maybe the employer asks you to delete the tweet, maybe they don't, maybe you do it on your own accord, sometimes what our employers will do ask us to rerun a report to make sure that that was deleted. So there's a lot of different outcomes, rather than just Okay, I'm gonna fire this person or something like that. A lot of times, it's really just about like, hey, let's clarify what the expectations are here.
Vinay Koshy 37:08
So are you finding that companies are investing in a degree of social media education with their employees nowadays?
Bianca Lager 37:19
Yes, I think there's a number one question that we get is help with their social media policy? Right, right. How do I create a social media policy? What do I do? Do you have any examples, we help with all the above? And I'll say just like, Quick Set of advice here, most of the time, it's not as laborious as one might assume it actually is if you look to your general code of conduct, if you look to what you already know, you expect in terms of behavior in the workplace, you simply also translate that into your online life, right? So sexual harassment, any type of harassment, bullying, things like that, it there in those four buckets that I talked about? Pretty straightforward, you know, but yes, we recommend to document that. And we definitely have examples and all sorts of literature that we send our clients way to help them out with that,
Vinay Koshy 38:09
I know of companies that do invest in social media policy, however, that often tends to be a document that resides in February, so right. And even though it's a requirement, by all staff to go through it, most people will skim through it all and get get through it as quickly as possible move on to things wouldn't make more sense based on what you were saying, therefore, do redefine your key values and and have the social media and ensure that the social media policy fits in with those values? Because ultimately, that is your guiding compass in all things, whether it's offline or online.
Bianca Lager 38:52
I absolutely agree. And I will say that the company's Well, we work with ready companies, right? Right size companies, everything from fortune 100 companies to the mom and pop ice cream shop that is just wants to make sure things are up to snuff. And so, you know, I think the number one thing it's very clear to me when that when a company is going to have a successful program, is if they have that clear vision and clear idea of what's important to them and what isn't right and being very sometimes that is it's a it's a regulatory thing, sometimes that is required of you because you're a healthcare, you know, provider because you're an education provider. So those things are in those industries have a little easier time with some of that stuff. But a lot of entertainment and tech companies, they have extremely high value centered visions or or they have recently revisited their values. Obviously, there's been somewhat of a social reckoning over the past year in terms of Hey, you know, the baby lm movement, the me tube movement, all sorts of stuff time's up, that consumers are like, No, you know, if if you have an employee that is sharing this type of content, it's a no from us. And so that helps to make things really clear about how you can be, you know, how you can turn those values into actual outcomes and into actual actionable items that you can give to your team. And also live up to them, which I think is a very important thing, because, you know, all these brands over this past year have done we support this and we support that are in solidarity are the second ever, okay, that's, and that's great. You know, they want to say, these are our values, and maybe there's a one off situation where somebody gets fired, and it's sort of an example. That's, that's, that's, that's probably a very internal decision and all that. However, you know, some of our clients really use even using the social media reports as a tool to communicate to their employees that we're not just saying, you know, no hate speech, we are really putting into practice what that means. And trying to create a predictable and trying to create a, you know, trying to get ahead of the game here, when being proactive against that kind of stuff. So that we that we protect that workplace culture, we protect you from that toxic type of content, or or, you know, anything being shared that could create that toxicity. So outside of just simply saying the value, it's actually putting those things into practice. And I think that's also a reason why we have seen in the past two, three years, more and more DNI leaders getting involved, and we talk to more and more DNI leaders, because it is a it is a measurable social media screening is a measurable tool to say, you know, how those values are actually turning into practice and potentially measurable tool for those teachable moments that I mentioned before, to say, hey, when did this happen? How did we improve things? You know? So it's been interesting.
Vinay Koshy 42:09
Certainly, Bianca, I was also curious, when is a company ready for this sort of a report? I mean, it's one thing to listen to this podcast and say, Oh, we really should implement something like this and come knocking on your door and saying, you know, we need reports for our people. But is that the best approach and let it evolve, or really spend the time to ensure that you've got really good hiring practices, and employee engagement and advocacy practices in place before before we look at implementing the various bits and pieces?
Bianca Lager 42:48
Yes, this is one? It's a great question. The call that we get most often is the something's on fire. There has been a tweet, and we need to do something about this now, because there is a fire here, and it's out of control. And so that that happens a lot and a lot more. And this isn't, we're not talking about Roseanne Barr, here, you know what I mean, we're talking about internal issues that have escalated and, and have risen because of this. So we get that call. And like anything, you'd be amazing how amazed how quickly people are ready when the CEO says do this yesterday, you know, so that happens. And then we have the the scenario of the the value centered, we believe what you believe, right? social intelligence believes that there is an ethical and legal and compliant approach to utilizing social media data for areas of concern for employers, without necessarily stomping on a candidates privacy, right. And so that balance of we are going to respect our employees and uphold their their safety and the risk of toxicity and harassment and bullying, and balance that by by ensuring that we are hiring a leader, you know, in an industry that can provide expertise, and frankly, just outsource this, because we don't do that. I mean, just granted. So I think that that that proactiveness to say this is important to us, because we know it will support productivity outcomes. I mean, you know, look, there's so many statistics out there about the cost of toxic workplaces and how detrimental that can be a lot of times outside of there being on fire. It's just it's happened right? with someone at a trade show said to me once and I say all the time that happened in the workplace and ended up online or it happened online and ended up in the workplace. And it's just that it's a norm now. And so I think I think the readiness comes from the urgency factor. It comes from that valued centered place of of believing that this is a necessary tool, but that one that, hey, look, you spend a few bucks here and the report can be delivered operationally, there is, you know, a consideration there too, right. And so it isn't that difficult, this isn't something that is you have to reinvent the wheel and turn your company inside out, you know, we have a lot of literature and information, of course, on how other companies are doing it. So this isn't a revolution necessarily, that needs to take place. Sometimes when you're buying software, it is a revolution that needs to take place. And you're not really you can't commit to it, it is just too much, I would say that highest indicators of successful I mean, and this is such an easy onboarding situation, we just don't really have trouble with this at all. Because it's it's fairly easy to kind of digest this as, but however, what does help is if you have other background screens that you already do, it's almost a no brainer, because essentially, you work that into there. And then you're you're you just keep going from there, there's a few things to kind of learn and a new way of looking at it. But as somebody who, you know, it considers changing our own HR platform or something like that. Those things are such giant undertakings. And it's just not worth it a lot of times, and this is just very far from that. Bianca,
Vinay Koshy 46:21
I know, we've talked through various aspects around social media screening and intelligent hiring. But is there an aspect that we haven't quite touched upon or underlined regarding its significance?
Bianca Lager 46:35
You know, what I will say that there's one insight that I think is really interesting right now that I kind of can't get my brain off of, which is that we just released our latest trends report for 2020. And, you know, I guess Truthfully, I was biased myself, and I was sort of expecting, you know, so we kind of look at, well, what buckets were the highest? How did that change pre pandemic, during the pandemic, like what's happening here, right, I guess I was expecting the intolerance sector to skyrocket, especially in the US the election, a lot of heated conversations. And what was surprising to me is that violence increased. And it's very obvious, I think, in retrospect, to think about the high high level of emotion that people are experiencing right now. And it has a lot to do with everything we're all going through, you know, and this is such a of the moment thing, but it's very interesting to see how that, you know, you've been at home, you're angry, and you release on social media sometimes, you know, specifically in the violence category, it was threats against other people, right, so a lot of I'm going to kill us, I'm going to kill this person, I'm going to hurt you, you know, threats to do harm. And, you know, even even if it's just sort of silly memes, there's, there was a trend towards that violent and very emotional content. And I, you know, we fancy ourselves, you know, social intelligence. And like you were mentioned at the top of the of the talk here about sort of social, like sociology, almost like statistics and stuff, we actually believe that's what we do, you know, we actually do show to some degree, and we do look at data to kind of understand how society is communicating online, what it says about the health of our society, what it says about the mental health of the state of online now, we're not in the predictive analytics business. But there is a reflection, I think, for everyone to take from a human perspective to just understand just how much pressure everybody's under thinking twice about letting that loose on line and what those consequences are, like you mentioned, it's certainly a lack of sometimes education, some people just don't care. So, you know, I think that if there's anything to add to the conversation, I would, I would ponder that thought, just in the grand scheme of things. I hate to be a downer here. But you know, I certainly think a cautionary tale is a wise thing. You know, write it in your notes in your phone, maybe and just keep it to yourself, or, you know, better yet, find good ways, hopefully, to express your emotions and stuff. And, and give people a break online. You know, what I mean? Give people a break, they're going through a lot, you know, you you don't have to kill them. You don't have to say you're going to kill them, you know, take a beat, hopefully. And hopefully, we see those things improve over time.
Vinay Koshy 49:35
I certainly agree with that. But I was just thinking when you mentioned that's that that it's very much in line with what we've seen here in Australia, and we haven't been locked down as much as parts of Europe. But here in Australia, in Europe, I know that there's been a huge spike in number of domestic violence cases during lockdown periods. So
Bianca Lager 49:54
very concerning stuff. Right. When you think about it, in hindsight, you're like, Yes, of course. And it's it's sad it you know, it does it sort of breaks your heart in a lot of ways. And it's worrisome. And so, you know, I, I hope that as we turn the corner here with vaccines and everything else with COVID, that potentially, you know, that eases the burden with some of that stuff. And yeah, you know, folks being kinder to each other online is always a good thing. I mean, I think, you know, I'm not worried about going out of business, if that's the case. And if that's the case, and everybody's nice to each other. Well, then great. You know what I mean? and wonderful. I think we're all better off.
Vinay Koshy 50:36
This has been great. Bianca is, if you were listening to this episode, what would you say is your top takeaway?
Bianca Lager 50:47
Oh, well, if from a perspective of not really knowing maybe much about social media, I would hope that the takeaway is that there's folks that do this, you might not have known that there's folks that actually professionally do this for a living. And that, you know, really do consider a candidate centric and customer centric approach that balances the need for risk with the the ethics and the legal aspects of, of candidate privacy. Excellent.
Vinay Koshy 51:16
And be okay. If folks listening to this, we're curious, wanted to get in touch with you or find out more? Where would you recommend they head to
Bianca Lager 51:24
please do social intel.com, please do reach out to us through our Contact Us form. And if you mentioned that you were listening on a podcast and that, you know, you found out more information, shoot us a note in that in that form? And let us know. And what we're going to offer you is wholesale pricing for life. So what essentially this does is get you a giant discount that never expires. And that you can use through your program through the life of your program. So if you are listening and you write it in, let us know, make sure you mention it and we'll hook you up.
Vinay Koshy 51:57
That's that sounds like quite a deal. Thanks very much.
Bianca Lager 52:04
Thank you. Bye now.
Vinay Koshy 52:06
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