Marc O’Driscoll, Yoono: “businesses must avoid bias and remain compliant with discrimination and data privacy laws”

With social media being an inseparable part of our everyday lives, it can reveal more about a person than we realize.

Because of this, these days, the recruitment process usually involves not only evaluating a candidate’s competencies but also what their social media presence is like. Since it can be challenging to gain valuable insights from vast amounts of data, AI-powered tools have quickly become irreplaceable for HR professionals.

To find out more about the modern recruiting process, our team sat down with Marc O’Driscoll, Managing Director at Yoono – an online, easily accessible reputational check platform where users can quickly search and identify a match for an individual or business.

Tell us a little bit about how Yoono began. What has your journey been like?

Yoono was created and in full development in 2020 when we realized the true importance of reputational image for both individuals and the organizations they work for and deal with. We were extremely conscious that reputational management was very reactive (aiding people when they have a concern or poor image), as opposed to being proactive and people becoming more conscious of their online presence and actions.

The aim was to support mass users in providing a comprehensive, consistent, and non-bias online reputational report on those they are looking to employ or conduct business with, also saving capacity time and reducing risk. The journey has been a creative and transparent internal journey as we gathered feedback from our future users and partners on the levels and depth of data they would expect to see and hugely benefit from.

We have focused heavily on making the practical and exciting feedback we receive into a reality to then build a truly unique proposition to help tackle the new challenges businesses need to fix.

Can you introduce us to your automated intelligence platform? What are its key features?

Yoono is an online, easily accessible reputational check platform where users can quickly search and identify a match for an individual or business. Using AI and a plethora of APIs, Yoono then carries out multiple searches across social media, press releases, and news articles and includes facial recognition to produce the online activities and history of that individual or organization. Yoono users can easily access the information held on a browser. Our targeted search feature filters through unusable data, carrying out an in-depth search to provide usable insights and any sign of notable issues linked with the person or company searched. The reports are normally provided within 10 minutes, in both a hard copy and an eBook, allowing the users to peruse with ease, link to specific data that is of interest to them, and retain a comprehensive report to utilize in their working processes.

What would you consider to be the main challenges surrounding the hiring process currently?

An overriding reliance on CVs, sporadic background checks, and social media platforms causes inconsistent research processes, an issue concerning bias, poor decisions, and risk of bad hires or weaker relationships with people/suppliers, etc. The type of employee hired can directly influence a company’s reputation and profitability; identifying illegal activities and anti-social behavior is now as important as double-checking candidate identities, relevant education, and qualifications.

But doing it correctly and fairly is critical. As hiring decisions should be targeted at finding the relevant information needed to determine whether someone is fit for employment, it is, therefore, the business’ responsibility to avoid personal bias and remain compliant with discrimination and data privacy laws. Nowadays, online screening searches include categories of content such as racism/intolerance, violent misconduct, illegal activities, and sexually explicit content.

The use of a social media vetting company/service can help manage cases of bias to ensure candidates are not rejected based on protected things such as religion, political beliefs, disability, and sexual orientation.

How do you think the recent global events affected the hiring landscape?

A significant change has occurred in how candidates are screened during the recruitment process because of social media. Following the pandemic, a notable increase was seen in social media use over the years, with many recruiters turning to social media as a means of vetting candidates – dubbing the action "cybervetting". Cybervetting refers to the use of online information such as Facebook posts, LinkedIn profiles, and Google searches to evaluate applicants. According to a 2021 survey of 445 UK recruiters, up to 91% of all admitted to using social media as part of their employment checks, with 21% of employers mentioning they rejected a candidate after looking them up on Facebook as an example.

What are some of the main aspects of one’s online presence that can make or break the hiring process?

Today, more professionals understand that their public social media profiles impact their brand and how they can be viewed as extensions of their companies. A candidate can be immediately eliminated from the hiring pool if they share provocative content, express discriminatory views, or present false qualification information. As a result, the merger between an individual’s personal and professional life can tread a boundary of ethics when it comes to screening, creating a need for a consistent and non-bias process to be implemented. This is why we created Yoono.

Can you share with us some tips on how companies can make the hiring process smooth and effective?

Many businesses have toyed with the idea of using AI (Artificial Intelligence) to search through social media accounts and various websites to highlight key information about an individual and enhance their hiring process. The objective nature of AI can typically reduce the risks associated with bias by providing social media reports tailored, which then enables organizations and the needs of the employer.

The automated Yoono search can assist a company in reducing the cost of time and money while providing insight into a candidate's behavior and whether they will affect your brand reputation. Using this data in conjunction with current historical processes will breed confidence in a hiring process and make that process more efficient and secure. This all then provides a better picture to potential candidates.

What cybersecurity solutions do you think are essential for teams working remotely?

In relation to cybersecurity, employees don’t always have the same security measures in place on their home Wi-Fi networks as they do in an office environment, so there may be an increased risk of a data breach. It is important to support remote workers to adapt to and comply with cybersecurity measures that are designed to protect sensitive company data from hackers, etc. Essential solutions include deploying mobile security software, employing cloud-based solutions, and ensuring robust endpoint security & VPN use on all devices that may be accessing company systems and data. Trust but verify solutions before use to assist in your processes and data consumption.

What do you think an average workplace will look like in the near future?

I believe the role of the office has changed, and employees are not going back to the office 5 days a week, resulting in reduced physical contact. The future workplace will be hybrid working, where offices are used as hubs of innovation and social interaction. More employees will be working from home, and technology’s rapid transformation will continue, forcing employers to rethink how to integrate people with machines. With more remote and non-based office employees, the need for thorough screening and clear confidence in the online presence of such employees is key. Equally, employees will expect to be working with the best organizations with the strongest reputations as the world of remote working opens up more choices for the average employee.

Share with us, what’s next for Yoono?

Yoono can never stop investing or evolving as a solution, as the world of data is vast, and the growth of online presence (especially with our future world of employees) is thriving. We are continuously investing in additional and relevant data sources as we listen and gather our customer feedback. We will also be looking at other jurisdictions and rolling out access globally to populate Yoono users throughout the world moving ahead.

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