There is a lot of misinformation lately where attorneys and employer groups are suggesting employers not use character assessment tools such as a DISC, Profiles International, Kolbe, ZeroRisk HR, McQuaig and so on. The concern, of course, is that they might initiate some type of discrimination or breach of privacy claim. In reality, there have been less than a handful of claims emanating from the use of character assessment tools. A number of years ago a Target Department Store in the San Francisco Bay area was sued when they combined an MMPI exam (a psychiatrist tool) with their own handmade questions such as “Do you believe in pre-marital sex?” Very simply, if a company is that stupid, they deserve to get sued! However, we have yet to see one of the major assessment tool company sued successfully under a discrimination type claim.
Of course, any tool that is used as a pass or fail mechanism should be reasonably related to the job at hand and validated over time. These tools should also not have a “disparate impact” on minority or other groups unless a legitimate business interest can be shown for the impact.
What the employers groups and attorneys aren’t telling you is that these tools, although they could pose a slight risk on the hiring side, are very good at helping you not to hire the wrong employee. It’s always been our belief that the greatest risk is in not using these tools and relying on our subjective views when analyzing someone in the interview process. Of course, those attorneys will gladly manage your wrongful termination claim and will face no liability for recommending that you not use assessment tools.
Every company we know that uses these tools swears by them and agrees with the proposition that they are better at telling you who not to hire. Almost to the company, those who hired against the recommendation of the tool ended up paying a price in the process.
Understand this: Risk management is not about eliminating all risks; it’s about choosing your risk exposure. The greatest place to manage your risk is in the hiring process. By not using these tools, you place a greater risk of bringing on a poor employee and eventually facing a claim down the road. Of course, if you remain that concerned about it, get some advice from your attorney, but make sure to measure it against the upside that these tools represent.
Additional note: Try a wide variety of these tools to find out which one most closely predicts good job performance. Remember that the EEOC’s Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (designed in 1978) requires the use of the “four-fifths rule.” The rule provides that a “selection rate for any race … which is less than four-fifths (or 80%) of the rate for the group with the highest rate will generally be regarded by the [EEOC] as evidence of adverse impact …”