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'Across the board' background screening

December 17, 2009
by Terry L. Stawar, Ed.D.
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Scott Griffiths, MBA, the CFO at Seminole County Mental Health in Florida recently sent me this “Thought of the Day.”

“Most, if not all, responsible non-profits engage in background screenings of various levels of intensities for their employees. It is puzzling, however, that there seems to be a total across-the-board (pun intended) lack of the same requirement for current board members and candidates. These individuals, as stewards of the respective non-profits, have a tremendous responsibility to the well-being of the non-profit, but also have tremendous power and control over the by-laws, senior management, resources, strategy, and future of the respective non-profits, and yet they are not held accountable to the very same important requirement they expect of those who work for them.”

Scott has an excellent point. I’ve worked at five different CMHC and none of them screened board members or candidates. Where I work now we currently do not screen board members the same way we do staff, although they, of course, do not have direct client contact. I think we assume board members are semi-public figures and do not need the same scrutiny since they are a "known quantity" which is not true at all.



I agree with this Thought of the Day completely! Board members should be subjected to the same background checks, not only because it's simply just fair to do so, but also because they are the faces of the organizations and the ones with all the access to sensitive information and finances. Failing to do this could have very negative effects for organizations in the event a bad apple slips through the cracks.

Terry Stawar

President/CEO (LifeSpring, Inc.)

Terry Stawar



Terry L. Stawar, EdD, is President and CEO of LifeSpring Health Systems, a community behavioral...

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