Quid Pro Quo: How It Can Rot Your Corporation from Within

Quid Pro Quo: How It Can Rot Your Corporation from Within

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When we think of the phrase quid pro quo, “something for something,” we typically think of sexual harassment in the workplace. The presumption is in cases of sexual harassment is that a boss or supervisor will make unwanted advances towards their subordinate employees in exchange for work benefits or under threat of termination. But quid pro quo comes in multiple forms, and corporations should be vigilant of such activity within their organization, or risk a harmful malignancy in their corporate culture that will ultimately have negative consequences.

In the context of sexual harassment, quid pro quo means that an employee has been subjected to unwelcome advances as a term of their employment. This obviously constitutes a hostile work environment, and while it is morally repugnant to ignore such behavior, there are also negative consequences that impact the entire business. A hostile work environment can cause disruptions to daily operations that are costly for the business or organization. A person who is subjected to sexual harassment from a superior or other coworker is typically not as engaged as other employees. They do not dedicate the same level of focus to their work as they would in a non-hostile work environment. They tend to make more mistakes, and be more inclined to malinger in order to avoid their circumstances. This can lead to loss of productivity that may ultimately affect the corporation’s bottom line. It also poisons the cycle of corporate culture. As the affected employee disengages from their position, it can have a ripple effect throughout the workplace that will cause the corporate culture to rot.

Another form of quid pro quo that is less covered by media is bribery. Under the definition of “something for something,” bribery can occur between clients and their contractors, between contractors and businesses, or between businesses. When it occurs between businesses, this is typically the result of a mutually beneficial agreement. In another scenario businesses might also pay government officials for preferential treatment that would effect their bottom line. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Studies show that [corporate bribery] is also counterproductive resulting in lower profit margins, return on equity, and employee morale; costly delays as players haggle over the size of the kickback; and poverty and poor governance in the markets where they’re paid.” It goes on to say that according to the World Bank, “roughly one-third of firms around the world use kickbacks, paying an estimated total of $400 billion a year.”

Quid pro quo situations like sexual harassment and bribery also open the business or organization up to a parade of legal action and bad press that can ultimately devastate a company. Both corporations and nonprofits alike have seen whistle-blowers go to the government or the press if their concerns are not being heard from within the organization. Perhaps there is a sexual predator in the organization who was not terminated following a comprehensive investigation, or the investigation was not comprehensive at all. Many corporations might incorrectly assume that it is easier to push the problem under the rug rather than deal with the costs of turnover—interviewing a replacement, vetting applicants, and then devoting resources to training and onboarding. However, should the circumstances of the quid pro quo every become public, the costs of ignoring the problem will eventually be paid in full in litigation costs, bad press, and loss of business.

If you suspect there is quid pro quo going on in your business or organization, you can find answers with Lauth Investigations International. Lauth’s team of private investigators is comprised of former military and law enforcement personnel who are highly-trained in intelligence operations in corporate settings. We can perform background checks, initiate discrete undercover operations, offer top-notch surveillance, and provide expert recommendations for our clients. We carry a stellar A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and are available 24/7 for our clients.

Mergers & Acquisitions Need Private Investigators

Mergers & Acquisitions Need Private Investigators

A merger and acquisition investigation is often one of the first steps in prudent due-diligence when one corporation is looking to buy or merge with another.

Caveat emptor. Buyer beware. Consumers often find themselves thinking this when considering whether or not to test out a new product or replace a used one. After all, knowledge is power when it comes to your dollar. Now imagine that the product is not just a new shampoo or brand of cereal, but an entire corporation. Corporations who are flirting with the idea of a merger or acquisition regarding another company have a monumental task before them of performing due-diligence in fact-finding missions about these companies before they buy. If it is a publicly traded company, then a great deal of information about it will be accessible, but what about what’s not on paper? What about the staff, the internal operations, the unmitigated risk factors that could be inherited? A private investigator might be the perfect professional to conduct fact-finding in a merger and acquisition investigation.

Private investigators have the tools at their disposal to get the full picture when it comes to a prospective merger or acquisition. Private investigators have a similar investigative tool chest as law enforcement. It’s not uncommon for private investigators to be former law enforcement personnel. They are adept at moving within the environment unseen as observers, meticulously documenting what they see. They can get an unvarnished snapshot of how the business operates on a daily basis, how engaged the employees are, and how those things impact the daily output. They are adept at developing rapport with witnesses in order to get robust answers to pertinent questions regarding the investigation. Private investigators can also use databases similar to that of law enforcement to develop comprehensive background checks on the people in leadership of the company in order to determine within reason what is their risk of misconduct or negligence. Reviewing items like criminal history, address history, litigation history, and work history, they can profile the decision makers, document their history of decision-making, and how their relationship with their employees impacts the corporate culture of the company.

When it comes to a merger and acquisition investigation, a risk management firm might be the first entity that comes to mind. Private investigators and risk management firms often possess similar investigative methodologies in their experience with observing patterns of behavior and predict multiple outcomes within reason. Private investigators might have unexpected insight into mergers and acquisitions, because while the product, the brand, and the value are all critical factors in these corporate marriages, it is truly the human element that makes or breaks a business. Not unlike law enforcement, private investigators make their trade in analyzing and anticipating human behavior in order to develop leads for their casework. Their diverse experience in this arena allows them to conduct an evaluation of the business that goes beyond numbers and profit, but also how the dynamics between employees and the corporate culture will ultimately affect the parent company’s bottom line. If the private investigator finds that the company experiences repeated disruptions to operations due to inefficiency, apathy, or negligence, it further exacerbates the causation of these disruptions. The corporate culture declines and employees become more apathetic and disengaged. Without major overhaul to the corporate culture, the entity looking to buy might reconsider. When a company has a pervasive problem with employee misconduct of all kinds, including sexual harassment, discrimination, theft, and a high rate of turnover might be flagged as an unadvised risk by private investigators and risk assessment firms alike. The quality of corporate culture moves in a cycle based on how well it meets the needs of everyone involved in the workplace. When that corporate culture is consistently poor, these companies regularly open themselves up to costly turnover, employee theft, and legal action. If your company is involved in a merger or acquisition with another company, consider hiring Lauth Investigations International for your intelligence needs. Our team of private investigators is comprised of former military and law enforcement personnel who are ready to get to the truth for our clients. We’re adept in undercover and surveillance operations and carry an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau. Call today at 317-951-1100

University Investigations: How Private Investigators Can Help

University Investigations: How Private Investigators Can Help

Unviersity investigations require independent investigators

It is not uncommon for university investigations to feature some level of noncompliance and the university not cooperating with police or law enforcement. An aura of austerity and secrecy develops as the top decision-markers close ranks and circle the wagons to protect the interests of the university. No one usually thinks of universities as corporations, but they do bring in billions of dollars per year throughout the United States, much of that cash flow coming from private donors whose interests must also be protected during the investigation. Private investigators can take the same skillsets that allow them to expose misconduct within a corporation and apply them to university investigations.

Corporate investigations vs. university investigations

University investigations are rather common, though the investigation type is not always the same. When it comes to intelligence operations, private universities as an entity are a proverbial garden of opportunities for private investigators to apply their trade. There are two principal pools where the crime and misconduct are found. There’s the student body, who finds time for socializing and partying when they’re not hitting the books. Crimes committed within the student body may not be easily closed, either because the students involved or the university itself are not cooperating. The other common pool of opportunity is in the university faculty. While a university is not strictly a corporation, they experience similar workplace environments and are subject to the same workplace dynamics as businesses or nonprofits. There’s harassment between coworkers, financial misconduct, other forms of fraud, bribery, and collusion. These are all opportunities for private investigators to apply their methodology in a way that can improve a university for both the faculty and the student body.

Sexual assault investigations

Anyone who has ever seen a Dick Wolf police procedural knows that one of the most common crimes associated with universities is sexual assault. RAINN, the country’s largest organization combatting sexual violence estimates “11.2% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.” Sexual violence on campuses is pervasive and it is not uncommon for the university police to be ill-equipped or unwilling to help. InvestigateWest calls the phenomenon “a culture of indifference.” If the survivor then supersedes campus police and reports the assault to their local police department, a faulty investigation on behalf of campus police—either intentionally or otherwise—can severely impact the police’s investigation. This often leaves survivors with no recourse for justice, and are often compelled to continue attending classes in the same vicinity as their alleged attacker. This extends not only to student-on-student assault, but also between faculty and student, with even more devastatingly high stakes for the university as well as the survivor. Repeated instances in which the university ultimately shields the accused and displays documented negligence in properly investigating the survivor’s allegations can constitute a pattern of misconduct.

Violence, vandalism and theft

While sexual assault is one of the most serious and heinous crimes associated with campus life and work, there are other issues of student misconduct that require proper investigative methodology that campus police or local law enforcement might be ill-equipped to handle. Things such as theft, vandalism, stalking, and other forms of violence can also go unchecked if not properly investigated. When a victim has no recourse from other authorities, a private investigator can be the perfect professional to provide crucial context. Their proficiency in running comprehensive background checks and locating subjects, private investigators can make contact with elusive persons of interests in university investigations. Private investigators can go undercover, documenting behavior and actions that might otherwise be concealed. Private investigators also have an investigative edge over law enforcement. Though they are licensed and bonded by the states, private investigators are still private citizens. Young adults ages 18-24 typically have a great deal to lose in university investigations, including financial loss, loss of scholarships or grants, expulsion, arrest, and fallout with their families. This fosters a pattern of noncooperation with law enforcement in order to minimize consequences for themselves and their friends. Another critical factor is that underage drinking and illegal drug use are synonymous with campus culture, which could prompt additional consequences. However, private investigators have no powers of arrest, which can lead to the cooperation of subjects in university investigations. This dislodges any roadblocks in case progression, increasing the likelihood of a solution.

Faculty subjects in university investigations

Describing the impact of the crimes previously described become exponentially more devastating when you expand the pool of perpetrators to university faculty and staff. Furthermore, the level of noncooperation with investigating bodies when it comes to university investigations typically increases when it involves a staff member, and is proportional to their role within the university. The college admissions scandal in 2019, involving high profile defendants Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, showed everyone how much bad press universities can get when misconduct is exposed on the national stage, and universities are invested in minimizing such exposure. They stand to lose endorsements, contracts, sponsorships, and drops in enrollment rates as students and parents refuse to participate in an application process that has proven to be financially rigged. Private investigators can apply the same investigative methodology used in corporate investigations and apply it to university investigations. Undercover operations, surveillance operations, witness location, and evidence gathering are all services that private investigators use to expose misconduct within organizations, and universities are no exception. In addition to the crimes previously described, employee misconduct in university investigations such as fraud, embezzlement, bribery, admissions fraud, racism, and sexual harassment.

Hiring a private investigator adds an additional degree of integrity to university investigations. Because private investigators are independent of the university and law enforcement, their findings stand up to a higher degree of scrutiny at the conclusion of an investigation and in a court of law. Because private investigators are not bound by jurisdiction or by a chain of command, they are usually better equipped to push back against noncooperation in university investigations. The private investigators of Lauth Investigations International are staffed by former law enforcement and military personnel with diverse experience in applying investigative methods to complex situations in pursuit of truth for our clients. We provide comprehensive reports and expert recommendations.

If you need a private investigator for a university investigation, call Lauth Investigations International today at 317-951-1100, or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com.

COVID-19 Noncompliance Invites More Than Sanctions and Fees

COVID-19 Noncompliance Invites More Than Sanctions and Fees

COVID-19 compliance

While other countries throughout the globe are starting to make a full recovery from COVID-19, the United States still struggles to keep infection numbers down. As the states continue to open up, new cases are still reported every day, due in part to the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace, many employees are wary of their employer’s level of COVID-19 compliance. Many Americans are facing a difficult decision between their livelihood and their health. In turn, employers across the country are now facing sanctions, fines, and bad press for failing to protect both their employees and their customers.

The government-issued ordinances regarding business operation and social distancing changes depending on where you live—and so does the penalty for noncompliance. In Indianapolis, multiple businesses have been issued fines for not enforcing social distancing rules or enforcing the mandated face mask policy. In addition to fines, these noncompliant businesses are also facing backlash from their employees who are feeling undervalued and find themselves in a dangerous work environment.

Businesses who are noncompliant with COVID-19 restrictions are not only opening themselves up to penalty on behalf of the counties where they are located but they are also opening themselves up to subsequent litigation from their employees. Whether that litigation ultimately survives the burden of a civil court remains a moot point, as the initial stages of a lawsuit can still be costly to a small business. Therefore, business owners must go the extra mile not only to comply with the restrictions, but also to make their employees feel valued in a high-stress situation.

It’s typical for a business to contract risk assessment firms to determine their level of preparedness for a terroristic event such as a mass shooter, or to determine their vulnerability to external theft. These assessments are an investment in the future of the business—a preventative measure that will protect the business from incurring losses. However, investing in COVID-19 compliance is also a way to protect a business from fines, litigation, and fallout.

With the knowledge that they are being screened for COVID-19 compliance, businesses might appear to be in accordance with the ordinances. However, any private investigator will tell you that the best way to evaluate human behavior is when they do not believe they are being watched. In order for business owners to get a comprehensive picture of how their enterprise is being managed and conducted, they should contract a private investigator to perform due diligence.

Private investigators are ideal professionals to perform a COVID-19 compliance investigation and other operations that fall under the umbrella of risk assessment. Private investigators are professionally trained to blend into the background and become part of the fabric of the environment. From under the radar, they can openly document COVID-19 restriction violations for employers and former employees alike who believe their business or employer is/was noncompliant. Private investigators use the best available surveillance technology to document these violations for their final summary and can provide the client with expert recommendations on how to right the ship.

Private investigators can go the extra mile in performing these assessments by interviewing current employees, covertly or otherwise. COVID-19 noncompliance on behalf of an employer can be easily perceived as in indifference to health and wellness of their employees. Studies have shown that when employees do not feel valued by their employers, their level of engagement in their position goes down, and consequently, so does their productivity. Not only that, but employees who feel undervalued or ignored by their employers are more likely to steal from their employers, both by virtue of property and company time. As the culture of the workplace declines, so the business owner can expect to see a decline in weekly output and profit.

COVID-19 noncompliance can damage a business’s workplace culture for years to come If drastic changes are not made. Call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our COVID-19 compliance operations. Our team is comprised of former military and law enforcement personnel who have diverse experience in intelligence operations of all types. Call 317-951-1100 today or visit us online at lauthinvestigations.com

Invest in Background Checks for Nonprofit Boards

Invest in Background Checks for Nonprofit Boards

A nonprofit background check for supervisory board members is not only prudent in the name of good hiring practice, but also in the name of protecting the nonprofit from toxic leadership that can rot the organization from within. Luckily, a private investigator can provide the intelligence needed for full transparency.

nonprofit background check

When it comes to nonprofits organizations, knowing who to put in charge is paramount to the organization’s mission. When executives or professionals who serve in a supervisory capacity misbehave, it can have devastating consequences for the organization. From litigation to bad public relations, misconduct has the potential to damage the name of a nonprofit organization for years. That’s why it’s so imperative to run comprehensive, thorough nonprofit background checks on supervisory board members and executives.

United Way recently came under fire in the news after allegations surfaced regarding a hostile work environment. An anonymous letter allegedly authored by former employees of Untied way cited instances of racism, harassment, and nepotism on the part of leadership and failure to act on those abuses by leadership. This ended with a Untied Way board member stepping down after she intimidated one of the alleged authors of the letter.

However isolated individual instances of this type of misconduct may seem, the phenomenon of identifying and curing toxic workplace cultures is becoming more urgent. Corporations and nonprofits alike across the country are starting to take a more comprehensive look at how the internal operations of their entity can manifest in harmful ways. Lack of oversight and accountability are two ways in which toxic work environments flourish. That’s why many charitable organizations are opting for nonprofit background checks on their proposed leadership to ensure that the true mission of the nonprofit remains intact.

Private investigators are ideal professionals to conduct nonprofit background checks. They can review the relevant items on a subject’s background check that might interfere with their ability to supervise a nonprofit, such as criminal history, work history, and litigation history. Private investigators have diverse experience in evaluating human behavior and performing a risk assessment regarding their capacity in a supervisory role. Private investigators are able to place such relevant items in context. For example, a long address history might indicate a history of transience, which can translate to lack of dependability and lack of accountability. However, if the subject was forced to move again and again by virtue of their employment, that is important context that is needed in the investigation summary.

There are obvious items that would appear on a background check for a nonprofit board member that would pique interest, such as criminal history and work history. However, a background check does not have to be limited to what’s on paper in a nonprofit background check. Private investigators are adept in reviewing facts found, but they are also adept in searching for what’s outside the databases. Private investigators can locate and speak with former employers, former supervisors, and former supervisees who have worked with the prospective board member. By getting to the human sources during fact-fining in a nonprofit background check, private investigators can illuminate the professional and personal impact of that person on others. This creates a more transparent picture of how a prospective board member may impact the nonprofit.

An internal investigation of United Way’s internal operations downplayed the allegations proffered by those who authored the letter. However, given the misconduct from board members following the allegations, United Way might invest more in nonprofit background checks going forward. If your organization is experiencing pervasive issues with misconduct, including racism, harassment, and discrimination, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our corporate culture audit program and learn how you can improve your organization from within.

United Way investigation concludes, complaintants feel defeated

United Way investigation concludes, complaintants feel defeated

The United Way investigation was triggered by a list of former employees who singed an anonymous letter detailing a hostile work environment.

If you follow the mission and directives of nonprofit organizations, you’ve likely heard of United Way Worldwide. According to their website, the nonprofit “advances the common good in communities across the world. Our focus is on education, income and health—the building blocks for a good quality of life.” However noble their mission statement, United Way has been in the news recently as former employees have come forward with reports of a hostile work environment, prompting an internal investigation.

The United Way investigation began when former employers decided to take a stand against a toxic corporate culture. The allegations of a toxic, hostile work environment came in the form of a letter that was signed by an anonymous group of former United Way of Summit and Media, citing pervasive problems such as racism, sexual harassment, and nepotism. While the word “anonymous” raises eyebrows in conjunction with whistle-blowing, it bears pointing out that these former employees claim they will be subject to retaliation. The letter was sent to United Way board members on July 31, prompting board chairman Mark Krohn to announce the onset of an internal investigation.

Harassment and bullying are just one of the allegations made by the former employees who signed this letter, and this has led to one United Way board member already resigning. One of the first dominoes to fall in the United Way investigation was former board member Elizabeth Bartz, who was in charge of running government affairs in Akron, Ohio. Leadership from the United Way of Summit and Media began investigating Bartz after there were allegations that she had verbally abused employees on social media. Bartz used Facebook Messenger to send a private message to another former employee, calling them a “toothless piranha” and accusing them of attempting “to ruin UW” with their allegations of bullying in harassment—ironically by engaging in bullying and harassment. This led to Bartz’s resignation.

Bartz’s reaction to the anonymous letter might actually validate these anonymous claims by former United Way employees. However, according to an article by the Beacon Journal, these anonymous former employees are feeling ignored after an investigator reported that the allegations in the letter “were mostly unsubstantiated.” A former employee who claimed to speak for the group told the Beacon Journal, “It’s clear it’s not an objective report…We can’t keep talking if we’re not going to be valued and our experiences are going to be diminished. It’s pretty disheartening when someone says they were sexually harassed and they are told it was ‘he said/she said.”

The frustration and feeling of defeat expressed by these anonymous employees are the effects of poor corporate culture in motion. Like a piece of antique furniture with termites, poor corporate culture can rot a company from within. Looking at the list of grievances these former employees are citing—racism, sexual harassment, nepotism—these are all enormous and complex problems that are not created in a vacuum. The corporate culture of the workplace must be an environment where these issues are able to thrive in order to develop a pattern of behavior. When employees make claims about these types of internal issues, it is in the best interest of the corporation to submit to an independent corporate culture audit.

If your corporation or organization is experiencing repeated instances of internal difficulty, it might be time for a corporate culture audit. A corporate culture audit is a program that examines the internal policies of a corporation or organization, how those policies are enforced, how they effect the employees, and how those employees relate to each other as a result. If the corporate culture in a company is good, that positivity is baked into the internal operations, employees feel valued by their organization, and therefore will remain engaged and invested in maintaining productivity. Pervasive, repeated internal problems may not stem from a single factor, but the entire corporate culture of the workplace. Think of a corporate culture audit like a medical check-up for a business or organization. Lauth’s investigators evaluate the culture from leadership down, identifying the major factors in disruption, and advise leadership on how to improve their business from within. For more information on our corporate culture audit program, click here.