August 19th, 2020 | Chris Cassimus, Vice President, Product Management, Sterling

Steady Hands: Sterling’s Proprietary Tech and Industry Expertise Helps You Deftly Navigate COVID-19

Working from home during COVID-19

Way back in 2006 – long before the words “social distancing” were a part of most people’s normal vernacular – Sterling launched CourtDirect, a proprietary criminal record fulfillment engine. In doing so, we embarked on a journey to bring a technology-first approach to background screening that provides our customers with market-leading services, high quality solutions, and quick time-to-hire.

In the 14 years since its launch, CourtDirect has expanded, now completing over 88% of Sterling’s criminal record volume.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen millions of Americans lose their jobs or be furloughed, many criminal and civil courts closed their doors to the public. This left many Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) – which rely primarily on in-person criminal record fulfillment, and not electronic access to criminal data – in a precarious position.  Some of the publicly available information they needed to produce results for their customers was, for a time, unavailable.

But Sterling customers that were fortunate enough to continue to hire during this timeframe were able to continue to hire with confidence, relying on our company to provide their foundations of trust and safety in hiring despite the anxiety, uncertainty, and chaos of the coronavirus crisis.

CRAs like Sterling operate within a critical point of an organization’s hiring process: the point at which a company extends an offer to a candidate. It is important for that process to be an extension of an organization’s brand and values, while not impacting any subsequent steps in the overall hiring process, primarily the start date.

This importance is heightened in times of crisis, where an additional day of fulfillment could mean one less person on duty at a hospital, or one less warehouse employee packing and shipping goods to those in quarantine. Sterling’s technology enabled our customers to help navigate the journey of uncertainty with strength and resilience as well as gave them confidence that they would not have to sacrifice safety during their onboarding process.

Helping You Build a Foundation of Trust and Safety

While our technology is a fundamental element of who we are as an organization, and who we have been for many years, it is important to note that it was built by people, for people. Many years ago, it was difficult for any CRA, Sterling included, to provide the foundation of trust and safety in a timely manner, given that court data was generally only accessible by walking into a courthouse and using a public access terminal, or working with the court clerk to fulfill a background check.

And while the CourtDirect engine continued to run during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – and of course continues as you read this – it isn’t enough for any organization, including ours, to stop at the point where “our technology is doing everything it can.” While hiring screeched to a halt or a crawl in most markets, the Healthcare, Gig, Retail, and Staffing industries continued to ramp hiring to support the needs of Americans, whether it was for nurses traveling to take assignments in COVID-19 epicenters, gig workers making food deliveries, or warehouse workers that were needed to meet new demands given that most retailers were closed or operating in a limited capacity. Organizations still had the need to create foundations of trust and safety, but how could they if many court records were unavailable?

Will hiring organizations looking to bring on board a large number of employees and/or members shift hiring policies that have been in place for years? How much additional risk will a hiring organization incur by having a percentage of background checks remain incomplete until the cloud of COVID-19 passes? And how will those organizations treat the completion of those background checks at a later time?

Given that Sterling primarily accesses court data electronically through CourtDirect, over 99% of our volume remains fulfillable, with over 95% fulfillment during the height of court closures due to the COVID-19 crisis. This meant that the companies previously mentioned, did not have to sacrifice their own onboarding requirements or ultimately, sacrifice safety, while onboarding a large number of individuals into their organization and onto their platforms.

Girl Looking at computer screen

Working with You to Match Your Business Needs

Simultaneously, Sterling provided a consultative approach – through our Customer Success team and in partnership with our Legal and Compliance teams – to ensure that our customers not only continued to receive background checks, but so that they had guidance and insights into best practices.

Sterling’s vertical market expertise and approach allows each Customer Success Manager to understand the unique attributes of the industry that their customers are in – and specifically, the acute challenges and nuances that organizations in each industry have, both within a global pandemic and outside of it.

To be more specific, this means that Sterling’s team of experts supported our customers’ ever-changing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, often creating temporary (and adaptable) solutions to meet the specific challenges that existed both at the height of the pandemic and as the country has started to emerge from it.

This in-house expertise, while worth its weight in gold during the COVID-19 crisis, is something that Sterling relies on every day, applying it prior to the pandemic and continuing to do so ongoing afterward.

That CourtDirect itself is a product of Sterling’s employees and is an important point to call out. While many other CRAs claim to have comparable automation percentages for criminal record products as Sterling does, much of this automation is outsourced to a third party, rather than built in-house. Part of Sterling’s DNA is for our expertise to come from within, rather than relying on outside expertise and third-party products for criminal searches (where possible, of course).

Timely Support for Your Return-To-Workplace Program

No organization should ever have to sacrifice the well-being of its employees and customers. As leader in trust and safety, backed by a track record of delivering robust, high quality, and compliance-focused screening services, Sterling gives companies opportunities to have confidence that even during a pandemic, core elements of the hiring process can remain stable amid a sea of disruption.

Are you looking for reliable support as you prepare and execute your return-to-workplace plan? Sterling’s unique COVID-19 testing solution has been designed to adapt to your industry’s needs. Learn more about our robust suite of COVID-19 testing solutions. For all other support or questions related to background checks, click here.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.