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High School Yearbook

Last fall I attended a high school reunion, but before the event I dusted-off our yearbook to do a refresh on my classmates as it has been years (I’ll never tell how many) since I saw many of them at our graduation. There were some funny photos, at least they were funny back then, but with today’s lens, some of photos might be classified as offensive. The Wall Street Journal focused on Yearbooks recently in an article on the heels of the scandal engulfing Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, whose 1984 medical school yearbook contained racists photos that may show him the exit door. Since then, yearbooks have taken center stage. The bottom-line is that executives would be well-advised to scan their yearbooks and other memorabilia to know what potentially offensive photos, audio recordings and writings that are attributed to them decades ago, because they can come to light and derail a career or the next job opportunity. Best practice requires companies to commission background checks on all senior level and board hires, often digging back 25 years or more. Interestingly, there are sources that have most yearbooks available for sale, often dating back decades. While you cannot change the past, it might be wise to dust off your yearbook to at least be aware of what’s out there.

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