Internal Teams vs. Private Investigators

Corporations Are Expanding Their Internal Teams…

Contextual events like the #MeToo movement and other public allegations of employee misconduct have many companies throughout the nation reevaluating their investigative needs when it comes to internal conflicts. Among those companies are powerhouses like Microsoft. On May 10, 2019, Satya Nadella, the Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, announced new efforts to increase the size of its workplace investigation teams in order to better address reports of employee misconduct and harassment.

Nadella reportedly said in a company-wide announcement, “I want people to point out my flaws.” This transparent statement of accountability is symptomatic of an accountable business culture, in which employees at all levels of involvement know there is a right way and a wrong way to handle internal issues. The head of Microsoft’s HR department, Kathleen Hogan, confirmed to Quartz that this initiative will focus on five areas of the company’s internal operations, including behavior, manager expectations, investigations, accountability, and data transparency. The team is growing from a 7-person team to a total of 23 people, with senior leadership involved in making instrumental changes in weekly meetings, with the caveat that this level of change “does take time.”

The expansion of Microsoft’s investigative team will ensure internal issues, such as sexual harassment allegations, and issues surrounding theft and fraud, will be examined in a more thorough, comprehensive manner. Any action on the part of management at the conclusion of these investigations will be the result of a more diverse set of eyes performing their due diligence. This will reduce the company’s total litigation costs that may result from a wrongful termination lawsuit based on a faulty investigation, as well as bolster the quality of a case when every step of an investigation is given the time and dedication it deserves.

For smaller companies, especially small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, the total cost to hire a fully equipped, comprehensive team of investigators may be more than they can handle. Microsoft, after all, generates billions of dollars in revenue every year, and has the financial capability to set these investigative measures in motion. So where does that leave smaller businesses?

While it can cost a company like Microsoft millions per year for a team dedicated solely to the supervision and investigation of internal issues, the cost to smaller businesses can remain in the tens of thousands when they seek the consultation of an external investigator, like a private detective, or another type of independent investigator. Having teams of professionals dedicated to a company’s internal crises may increase the quality of every investigation, but private investigators bring something invaluable to the table: unimpeachable integrity and objectivity.

After all, an internal team of investigators is still internal. Despite the quality of any investigation within a company, the respondent to any legal action can claim the business or corporation was not objective in their investigation, because the investigators had a stake in the outcome of the investigation as employees of that business. A private investigator’s independence and autonomy means their only loyalty is to the truth, and their findings will face a higher threshold of scrutiny in a court of law. Private investigators also make great witnesses, who can state in-person how their investigative methods lead them to their conclusion and assure the court that all avenues were explored when preparing their findings.

However, some companies learn too late that it’s prudent to hire a private investigator prior to the onset of a corporate crisis. Companies bring in internal investigators after an incident has been reported, or long after attempts to resolve the issue internally have been exhausted.  In order to minimize costs to the company due to factors such risk oversight, poor business practices, and inefficient human resource operations, businesses should have an independent specialist like a private investigator evaluate a company’s preparedness for a range of common corporate crises.

If you have a corporate crisis and need solutions, Lauth Investigations International is the private investigation firm for you. Call 317-951-1100 today, or visit our services page for more information.