December 12th, 2017 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

Breaking the Glass Ceiling in the Background Screening Industry

Women’s share of the labor force in 2016 was 46.8% with 56.8% of all women 16 years and over in the labor force compared to 69.2% of men the same age. For more than 50 years, women continue to position themselves into leadership roles at a growing rate. According to a 2015 Pew study, more than half of managerial and professional occupations (52.2%) were held by women, up from 30.6% in 1968.

Women are continuing to “break the glass ceiling” in industries across the US. Catalyst reviewed a variety of labor statistics and found that women have made inroads into the top leadership positions in corporate America. Women held 51.5% of management, professional and related positions. Today, 26 women are serving as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (5.2%), and 5.4% are serving as CEOs of Fortune 1000 companies.

Women Executives in the Background Screening Industry recently published the article, “Kicking Glass: Women Thrive in Leadership Roles in the Background Screening Industry” which looks at how women have achieved executive positions in the background screening industry. The article features Clare Hart, CEO of Sterling, the largest background screening provider in the world, as well as other women in senior-level roles in employment screening organizations.

While the background industry has been largely dominated by male executives, increasingly female executives are choosing the profession, in addition to being recruited into the industry. In the article, Clare Hart said, “One-third of the professionals on our executive committee are women, and I’m proud of that. They have all been in the industry for a long time; they are smart women who have been able to advance their careers. In addition, at Sterling, we have several examples of allowing work at home situations. We are about results, yet we are not obsessed with a physical presence in an office. As we are metrics driven it’s easy to see if someone is producing or not. We are also very consistent with pay, and when in the same job, women are compensated the same as men and are given opportunities for advancement.”

Sterling also actively partners with organizations committed to helping women in the workforce, such as their recently-announced partnership with Path Forward, a non-profit organization that empowers women and other caregivers who desire to re-enter the workforce after time spent away from their careers.

“We understand that returning to the workforce after a significant time spent away is a challenging transition for women”, said Hart. “At Sterling, people are at the center of everything we do, and we are honored to offer ‘returnees’ an opportunity to revamp their skills, work on projects that encourage growth, and gain valuable experience. It’s really a win-win for everyone.”

Spotlight on Clare Hart

Clare Hart was appointed the CEO of Sterling on January 1, 2015, after holding the role of president since May 2013. She is an innovative visionary; a strong industry leader who activates the strengths of employees, while leading an aggressive growth strategy, vision and overall performance. Her unifying vision for the company includes becoming a technology leader in the Human Capital Management space, building a globally recognized HCM brand and transforming Sterling into the world’s largest background screening provider and employer of choice.

Clare’s technical acumen and experience as a developer has positioned her as a credible leader amongst Sterling’s large engineering and technology teams. As a result of her technology vision, Sterling has grown their suite of employment screening and employee onboarding products. She accelerated Sterling’s move to the cloud and spearheaded the development of a new cloud-based platform, SterlingONE which launched in 2016. The platform optimizes the hiring workflow by streamlining the hiring process, making it easier for HR executives to recruit, screen/onboard and manage their employment lifecycle.

When being interviewed for the article, Hart shared why she was attracted to the background screening industry and still enjoys her CEO role, “I started as an applications programmer, and I realize that every industry today is very dependent upon technology. So, my experience with technology and product development has helped me in my career and has helped Sterling. We differentiate ourselves through the use of technologies. Our business, just like every business, is dependent on technology. Another advantage that we have over the competition is a good mix of people with very detailed experience in this industry and in other industries.”

Clare Hart is a committed mentor, advisor and supporter of organizations that can help women and children. As a mentor, Clare encourages young executives to read as much as possible, learn and grow in whatever profession you choose and never take yourselves too seriously. She believes that for women to succeed and become leaders in the business world, science, technology and math education needs to start earlier in grade school and must continue through college and entering the workforce.

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