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Cultural Barriers in Background Screening Across the Globe

Updated: Apr 28, 2022

Since the deployment of virtual work-from-home (WFH) arrangements, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised fears of fraud and the security of sensitive and secret data, according to a poll conducted by CRI® Group to assess the state of human resources.

Approximately 88 percent of those polled stated that the pandemic is having an influence on their HR operations, while 65 percent are investigating innovative ways to keep employees throughout the crisis outside of government schemes, such as the furlough policy in the United Kingdom. Despite the fact that these employees have access to sensitive information, a staggering 54 percent of those polled admitted to not screening their employees for criminal, media, and employment history perspectives before any work-from-home arrangement, as they would have done if they were asked to work from the office.

Background checking is essential to all different types of businesses and industries as it can help you authenticate your employees’ track record and avoid a bad hire. Companies or their vetting supplier must carefully manoeuvre through cultural hurdles to properly handle an international background check procedure.

These Barriers include:

  • Regulatory policies

  • Language barriers

  • Social behaviour

  • Local practices

  • Political differences

  • Technology gap

Regulatory policies

Background screening on a global scale necessitates the transmission of personal data across borders. This requires adherence to data privacy rules in the process.

Data protection regulations vary by nation; for example, rules in the United States are not the same as those affecting investigations in the Middle East, and Middle Eastern policies are not the same as those in Europe. To perform domestic background investigations, most background checks in the United States typically comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In the case of Europe, they follow the regulation of GDPR which was implemented in 2018.

Other regions, such as the Middle East, have even more complicated data protection rules. There is no restrictive regulation limiting job screening or employee due diligence in the Middle East. As a result, the process is heavily reliant on the applicants' cooperation. They process consensually based on personal data information, according to strong Data Protection criteria (such as GDPR, local Data Protection regimes, DIFC Data Protection, ADGM Data Protection, and QFC Data Protection rules).

Language barriers

The langue barrier is more self-explanatory than other barriers, failure to read/translate papers necessary for each step of any HR procedure will increase the turnaround time for completing the background screening process.

Social behaviour

There are several cultural and social norms that differ throughout countries and even localities; what you consider the "norm" in one location may be the polar opposite in another. As a result, the cultural index was created. The cultural index is a directory that lists numerous cultural obstacles and their influence on various locations; it is usually graded on a scale of one to five, with one being "not an issue" and five being "very tough." Social behaviour was given a three-star rating in APAC and the Middle East, and a two-star rating in other regions. Building a local team could be a way to ensure a smooth process because they are familiar with HR procedures.

Local practices

Political differences must be addressed throughout the screening process as the country's officials and authorities may have different goals than the organization's place of residence.

With the ever-changing socioeconomic conditions in many regions of the world, unfortunate incidents have occurred in a number of countries. Political instability is a key obstacle in Africa and the Middle East, according to the cultural barrier index.

Technology gap

When there is a lack of technological infrastructure, which leads to deficiency in candidate information, the technology gap becomes a cultural barrier. This was discovered to be a considerable impediment to background checks. The technology gap echoes local practises and regulatory rules, reinforcing the idea that auditors must adapt to suit the demands of the organisation based on the resources at their disposal. Take the following examples into consideration. A comprehensive database of criminal and educational records does not exist in some Asian countries. Also African government offices do not keep computerised criminal/education records, manual retrieval of records is required, which delays the verification process.

How can VettingGateway Help?

At VettingGateway we recognise that no two people are alike, and by using VettingGateway as your background checking program, you can eliminate cultural barriers. The tool is customisable, providing a platform that allows you to select a variety of different checks and create bespoke bundles that are appropriate for your cultural and business requirements. You can also customise the phrasing and questions in VettingGateway to accommodate social and cultural variances.

VettingGateway also addresses the technology divide; while we use the most up-to-date technologies and automation, we also provide various options for doing a background check offline. If your applicant, for example, does not have access to a computer or an email address, you can manually fill out their application using information they can provide in person or over the phone.

As previously mentioned, vetting organisations must carefully manoeuvre through cultural hurdles to properly handle an international background check procedure. Thankfully, VettingGateway are on hand to help with this. If you would like to learn more about VettingGateway you can click here, or you can sign up for your free starter licence and claim three free reference check by clicking here.


The information Provided by VettingGateway in this blog was published on the 03/02/2022, all information was relevant at the time of publishing however as our landscape is forever changing this information may not remain valid.

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