December 1, 2008
BPA 138: Business Ethics
Ethical Recruitment in the Age of Technology
The process of outside recruitment has changed somewhat dramatically in the past several decades. Local recruiting firm Corporate Professional Services Inc. (CPSI) has recently become extremely successful filling positions for large corporations in the information systems industries, CareFirst, GEICO, and Lockheed Martin (Partial Client List). While evolving business strategy to remain successful in this age of technology is highly important, keeping up-to-date with ethical and socially responsible practices becomes important as well. Although CPSI does not encounter many ethical situations faced by international corporations or retail firms, the firm’s recruiters continue to maintain high social and ethical standards.
Concerning CPSI, I spoke with Human Resources Assistant Sarah Schultz, who believes in her company and enjoys both her coworkers and her career. She spent much of our interview explaining the principle behind recruitment firms, as I was oddly unfamiliar with the concept.
Generally, the “recruitment process begins with the identification of a vacancy, after which the recruiter receives authorization to fill it,” meaning that CPSI receives information about job openings from its clients and attempts to fill them accordingly (Singh and Finn 396). Corporations outsource recruitment increasingly frequently as firms that particularly focus on recruiting increase the “speed and efficiency in dealing with applicants and clients,” allowing “organizations fulfill their employment needs as expeditiously as possible” (401). Further expediting this process are websites such as monster.com (used by CPSI), where candidates place their resumes for public viewing.
Schultz explained how by using the Internet, CPSI fills part-time, full-time, and contract-to-hire positions for its clients. “We have two main departments to help expand our business,” she told me, “recruiting and sales. The sales department search and network to gain more clients while the recruiting department looks for people to fill positions that the clients need.” Once the sales department receives information regarding a job opening, the recruiters scan the Internet and their existing resume pool to find the best-qualified candidates for the employment opportunity. The Recruiters then send the best resumes to their client and continues to maintain relationships with the candidates and clients that they have placed together. Although Internet job sites make this process easier for recruiters, they still have significant work and standards to uphold.
CPSI remains profitable due to highly successful relationships with clients, and to a lesser extent, with job candidates. Unfortunately, Schultz was unable to go into great detail regard clients due to confidentiality agreements that she and the rest of her coworkers signed regarding specific business and networking information. The most she was able to say concerned giving away “a Wii at a networking convention in order to gain potential candidates.” However, this confidentiality holds as another reason CPSI enjoys profitable accomplishments. Large corporations, especially those in the information technology industry, need the security of knowing that their job openings and requirements will not be publicized.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the recruitment firm is indeed confidentiality. When questioned about ethical standards, Schultz continually referred to the legally binding confidentiality statement all CPSI employees must sign. She explained how new recruiter and administrator training included giving each employee “a manual with everything they need to know along with info about confidentiality, sexual harassment, and many other things the government requires us to inform our employees about.” In this case, government regulations cover most ethical standards faced by the company. Schultz lucks out in her ethical policies, as CPSI is a small, privately owned firm mostly governed by federal regulations.
This does not mean that CPSI regards Human Resources as unimportant. The company understands that “behavior of any kind has a positive effect on recruitment and retention because people want to work for an organisation [sic] they can be proud of,” a principle that works doubly for the recruitment firm “ (Syedain 24). Schultz and her colleagues must act in an ethical and socially responsible manner not only to represent themselves but to also represent their corporate clients. Schultz and her peers uphold Virtue Ethics, taking both individual and corporate integrity into consideration. They support the well being of their community by placing job seekers in fitting positions, following a corporate mission statement and core values available on their website, cpsi-md.com.
Through their core values, CPSI professes a flexible, focused, professional, creative, and accountable corporate culture. (Core Values) The accountability aspect refers back to confidentiality, and actions such as whistle blowing. Any employee notifying outside sources such as the media of corporate wrongdoing would more than likely violate confidentiality agreements, of which Schultz could only comment, “If the person broke the confidentiality law then we could fire them.” Internal whistle blowing becomes a different matter, as CPSI deals with sensitive information and generally important documents, including candidate’s resumes and timesheets. The small firm pays close attention to all employees in a friendly manner so that misconduct is dealt with swiftly and generally not discussed outside upper management. Schultz was able to disclose that most observed misconduct regarded employees leaving early or taking office supplies for personal use, rather than larger infractions such as changing client’s timesheets. This harkens back to Virtue Ethics, wherein employees understand the importance of working toward the greater good of society and act toward a proverbial good moral character.
Not only to CPSI employees receive handbooks and watch training videos like many firms, they are guided by the ethical examples of their management team. Schultz and her peers feel that leading by example and offering encouragement for the proverbial ‘job well done’ provides sufficient stimulus for other employees to act ethically as well. She explained: “I see the CEO of the company every day. He started CPSI out of his garage and hasn’t lost touch. Although we have approximately 200 employees, only 15 work in the office and we all know each other well.” Perhaps the CPSI office offers a panopticon where no employee feels safe conducting business unethically, or the recruiting firm understands the importance of hiring likeable and dependable employees. In either case, Schultz worries little about ethical dilemmas because the combination of legally binding terms, strong core values, and trustworthy employees lead the CPSI team to ethical success.
Indeed, Schultz defined her corporate culture as “pretty chill,” knowing that each employee implicitly trusts the others to do what is best for their clients, candidates, and corporation. The CPSI office offers a small-town feel, where all employees are friendly, readily achieve business goals, and understand the price for misconduct is most often termination. Perhaps most importantly, CPSI employees see their CEO demonstrating many of the qualities of ethical leadership.
Outside of serving its clients, the firm also practices social responsibility. Although Schultz admits there is not much to be done since CPSI does not work with vendors or create products, the firm participates in all that it can. The office recycles all cans and bottles, a rare occurrence in the business world. The CEO will support charitable causes, but does so separate from the business. This continues the firm’s belief in leading by example, so that employees understand the importance of charity even though it may not relate to their business. Furthermore, recruitment in itself may be viewed as social responsibility. Recruiters find the best possible candidates for each corporate job opening, benefiting all parties involved.
CPSI maintains a positive reputation by providing the highest quality service for the corporate clients. Ultimately, the firm earns profit by filling positions for candidates and retains clients’ business by keeping all necessary information confidential and ensuring all job candidates are highly qualified. Recruiters believe in their jobs, following strict legal and ethical standards so that high-profile clients continue to contract with CPSI. Although social responsibility is not implicitly involved in the recruitment business, the firm does what it can to be responsible.
Overall, CPSI and Schultz operate with a policy of leading by example, breeding trust with trust, and seeing good work rewarded with renewed contracts. Regarding client confidentiality as key to profitability, the firm is able to legally terminate many rule-breakers, thereby instilling a greater commitment to ethical standards. Although Schultz could not speak of an ethics or social audit, her firm seems well on the way to maximizing responsibility with its current practices.
As a growing business, CPSI needs to uphold client confidentiality and renew (even expand) contracts in order to remain profitable. Corporate social responsibility does not particularly apply to the recruitment firm, but their corporate culture includes many responsible acts regardless. Holding high expectations for ethical conduct comes easily as law prohibits most unethical conduct. Perhaps most importantly, CPSI employees understand the moral and ethical philosophies precluded by their position of filling jobs. When properly upholding legal and ethical standards, CPSI benefits everyone involved, from candidates to clients to the recruiters and sales people themselves. Functioning as a socially and ethically responsible recruitment firm results in satisfaction for everyone, which may be the most important accomplishment of Schultz’s career.
“Core Values.” CPSI – Systems Integration, Consulting, and Contracting in the Baltimore – Washington area. 13 Apr 2007. CPSI. 26 Nov 2008 < http://www.cpsi-md.com/corevalues.html>.
“Partial Client List.” CPSI – Systems Integration, Consulting, and Contracting in the Baltimore – Washington area. 13 Apr 2007. CPSI. 26 Nov 2008 < http://www.cpsi-md.com/clientlist.html>.
Schultz, Sarah. Personal Interview. 24 Nov 2008. 21 Mellor Avenue Baltimore, MD 21228. 410-455-0005
Seydain, Hashi. “Human Contract.” People Management 15 May(2008): 24-27.
Singh, Parbudyal, and Dale Finn. “The Effects of Information Technology on Recruitment.” Journal of Labor Research XXIV(2003): 395-407.
Martins, Pedro, and Francisco Lima. “External Recruitments and Firm Performance.” Applied Economics Letters 13(2006): 911-915.