Just after lunch last Wednesday, violence erupted in
Milwaukee, WI at the famous Molson Coors factory, when an employee walked in with
a loaded firearm and began shooting, leaving 5 victims and the shooter
deceased. The violence is another in a string of shootings in the workplace that
has corporate leadership wondering what their role is in limiting these acts of
The victims in the Milwaukee Molson Coors shooting were identified as Jesus Valle Jr., 33; Gennady Levshetz, 61; Trevor Wetselaar, 33; Dana Walk, 57; and Dale Hudson, 60. The shooter, electrician Anthony N. Ferrill, 51, is deceased as well. Those victims, Ferrill’s coworkers, are remembered by the dozens of friends and family they left behind, as well as a community rocked by violence. Molson Coors chief executive Gavin Hattersley said in a news conference, “They were husbands, they were fathers, and they were friends. They were a part of the fabric of our company and our community, and we will miss them terribly.”
While many acts of violence in the workplace are perpetrated
by former employees, Anthony Ferrill was a current employee of Molson Coors.
Ferrill worked in the building’s utilities department. While authorities have
not established a clear motive for the shooting, according to the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ferrill had a history of dispute with his coworkers
that many have speculated finally came to a head in the events leading up to last
week’s shooting. The dispute may have had racial overtones, with Ferrill
accusing other employees of discriminating against him in the workplace. He had
suspicions that other employees were trespassing at his home, bugging his
electronic devices, and disturbing his property. With the exception of one man,
Ferrill had previous confrontations with all the victims, yet police have
declined to comment on how the shooting occurred.
When shocking incidents of violence like this occur in the workplace,
it’s not uncommon to hear from leadership in the organization that they are ‘shocked,’
or ‘astonished’ at the events that have taken place, or that the violence was
perpetrated by a member of their organization. The reality is that active
shooter events and other forms of violence in the workplace can usually be
anticipated and prevented if leadership is not asleep at the wheel.
Most workplace crises, from violence to theft, can be traced
back to faulty internal operations. That’s why so many corporations are seeking
to have their daily operations evaluated by independent investigators and risk
assessment firms. These investigators come into your business and begin examining
hiring processes, onboarding materials, employee engagement, and the turnover
rate in an attempt to identify the problems that cause frustration within the organization.
In the unfortunate example of Molsen Coors, there was obviously room for more
supervision with regards to intra-employee conflict. If the alleged
intra-employee conflict had been given more attention, it might not have ended
Corporate Culture Audit investigators can provide leadership with the insight they need to improve their daily operations. Investigators can review hiring protocol, identifying risk factors and lack of oversight. They can review security systems, both in cyberspace, and at brick-and-mortar locations to identify weaknesses that would leave the company vulnerable to attack. These are measures that could have prevented the violence that broke out at Molson Coors, and they can protect your company, too.
If your corporation or organization needs a corporate
culture audit, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote
on our corporate culture audit program. Our program is built to fit businesses
of any size and is customizable to fit you investigative needs. Call
317-951-1100 or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a division of
the Treasury Department in the United States, has finally stuck a blow against
one of the most reckless financial institutions in the nation, Wells Fargo. This
federal department has linked a former chief executive of Wells Fargo with compulsion
on the part of leadership to encourage Wells Fargo employees to set up
fraudulent accounts that would hold extracted fees from customers.
John Stumpf, the former executive in question, has been
slapped with a monumental fine totaling approximately $17.5 million. The extent
of the misconduct was so severe, that the OCC also banned Stumpf from the
banking industry for the rest of his life. He was not alone—a former head of
banking at Wells Fargo, Carrie Tolstedt is also facing a fine of $25 million.
The Office of the Comptroller of Currency has also issued a
notice which argues that Wells Fargo has engaged in toxic business practices
over the last ten years, compelling employees to exhibit “serious misconduct”
in order to meet “intentionally unreasonable sales goals.” The notice went on
to say that the corporation operated within an environment of malignant
leadership, indicated by “…an atmosphere that perpetuated improper illegal conduct.”
Wells Fargo’s head of corporate investigations testified
before the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, informing them that there was
hypervigilance on part of leadership with regards to sales quotas, but
lethargic oversight with regards to illegal sales practices. It was apparent to
the corporate investigator that leadership was indifferent to how
employees met sales quotas, as long as those quotas were consistently met.
Lower-level employees were made accomplices—single cogs in a large clockwork
As the saying goes, “the fish stinks from the head,” and the litigative implications of these proceedings have indicated Wells Fargo reeks of poor corporate culture. Regardless of whether or not it is healthy, corporate culture moves in a cycle, with cause-and-effect factors that can often be traced back to leadership. Not only should leadership be an example for the entire corporation, but their interpersonal conduct within the workplace directly effects their employees’ engagement and productivity. Executives who impose unreasonable or unattainable goals on their employees are setting them up for failure, absolving themselves from responsibility when goals are not met. This leads to a toxic, high-pressure work environment where employees don’t just feel unsupported, but also devalued in the eyes of their employer. Employee engagement goes down, and consequently, so does productivity. This frustrates leadership, which then reacts by tightening their grip, beginning the cycle anew. If your corporation experiences persistent problems with leadership misconduct, it’s definitely time for a corporate culture audit. Corporate culture audits are like checkups for your business. Independent investigators come into your business and evaluate all operations—communication, record-keeping, hiring processes, and employee engagement. They identify the cause of these malignant symptoms and provide the corporation with expert recommendations that will ultimately propel their organization forward. If your corporation needs a corporate culture audit, call Lauth Investigations International today at 317-951-1100 to get a free quote, or contact us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com
Corporations that have seen a decline in their corporate culture are turning to internal investigation and risk assessment firms for help in 2020. The discourse around corporate culture has evolved significantly over the last few years, with employees voicing their desire for work-life balance and how corporate culture directly impacts their decision to stay with a company. Leadership is better-educating themselves on how their actions feed into the cycle of corporate culture, and how they can improve employee retention by making meaningful changes that grease the wheels of success in their business or organization. However, many corporations have their anxieties about conducting internal investigations in a fishbowl—where employees are able to see the methodology in motion—and how this will impact their workforce and their business.
Corporations can find themselves open to scrutiny from both
their employees and their customer-base when they announce an impending
internal investigation. Some corporations, for a myriad of reasons, opt to have
internal investigations under a cloak of classification in order to protect the
integrity of the investigation—however, in the interest of transparency, many
corporations opt for a visible investigation, warning employees, shareholders,
customers, or all of the above, of an impending internal investigation. This
means that the investigating bodies will be under a microscope of scrutiny
within the corporation, as their methodology, decorum, and their practices will
a source of debate around the proverbial watercooler.
Regardless of who is contracted to conduct the internal
investigation, or under what level of declassification, if there is visibility
of an investigation, there is a delicate balance of transparency and
professionalism needed in pursuit of the truth. One of the most difficult tasks
an internal investigator has at the inception of the investigation is
establishing a rapport with relevant parties, such as leadership and the
workforce in order to garner frankness from persons who will be crucial to the
Investigators must establish credibility with the client and
relevant subjects in the case. This means ensuring those individuals are aware
that the investigator shares their values and is only interested in identifying
problems to improve the business—not damage it—indicating a high level of
accountability that will have a ripple effect throughout the corporation or
In tandem with establishing credibility, investigators must
be straightforward about their objectives, outlining what the client hopes to
achieve and their proposed methods of reaching that goal. Investigators must
never make promises they cannot keep by making declarations before they know
the facts. Corporate investigators must always pursue a resolution to a
business’s problem that does not impair their long-term goals—by the same
token, it is imperative that the investigator informs the client that there
might be some negative consequences as the result of their findings, such as
turnover, further inquiries, or bad publicity.
Objectivity is key in any internal investigation. It’s one of the reasons some companies elect to have a private investigator or risk assessment firm conduct their investigation, as opposed to an in-house investigator or member of house counsel. No employee with a stake in the outcome of the investigation, even indirectly, may be 100% objective in identifying pervasive issues in an organization. In addition to that objectivity, an independent investigator—unknown to the corporation or organization—investigators can move through a workplace undetected. This will take the edge off of the “fishbowl” factor that is common with internal corporate investigations. Private investigators can adopt a persona and conduct their investigations without the eyes of concerned coworkers; interviewing employees, collecting evidence, evaluating the location, and reviewing internal communications can all be conducted in plain sight.
Internal corporate investigations with a “fishbowl” factor can be an inherent challenge for corporations. Above all, it’s important to remember that employees are your greatest asset, as they feed into a cycle of corporate culture that can successfully stimulate your business or organization. An appropriate level of trust and care must always be taken when subjecting your workforce to an internal investigation. When employees feel valued, they will become empowered and engaged to give their best to the benefit of your organization.
Regardless of the industry, all businesses should be
vigilant with regards to employee theft. Employee theft can come in all shapes
and sizes, from an administrative assistant pocketing some extra Post-Its to
hardcore embezzlement on behalf of leadership. It can be easy to dismiss
repeated instances of employee theft as isolated incidents, implementing
disciplinary action or termination, and moving on with the work week. However,
many executives and managers may not realize that repeated instances of employee
theft could be indicative of a much larger problem in their corporation or
From a position of leadership, it’s easy to dismiss a single instance of employee theft; the employee is the one who made a choice to steal from their company or organization, and that employee was wrong for doing so. Discipline or termination typically follows, and leadership walks away feeling confident that they’ve removed a bad apple from their barrel. However, pervasive issues with employee theft are symptomatic of a systematic problem within the business or organization that go beyond a single employee’s bad judgement.
Why do employees steal?
The three most common reasons employees steal are not very
difficult to understand.
employees feel as though their employer has wronged them, or their compensation is inadequate.
employees believe that employers insure such losses—therefore it is a victimless crime.
employees know they will not be held accountable if they are caught
All of these reasons may characterize the employee as “disgruntled,” a term with a cultural context that often absolves the employer of any misconduct. When a corporation or organization has repeated instances of multiple employees committing theft, it’s a sign that the corporate culture of the workplace is less than healthy. A single employee pilfering staplers is not symptomatic of unhealthy corporate culture, but 5 employees pilfering staplers is a sign that employees do not feel valued, and therefore do not respect their employer.
The cycle of healthy corporate culture always begins with happy employees, because when employees are happy, they are more engaged, and contribute positively to the productivity of the organization. This pleases leadership, which incentivizes them to make decisions that raise morale, such as rewarding success with pay-raises, benefits, and thoughtful, constructive collaboration. The cycle begins anew with happy employees. Poor corporate culture means that undervalued employees will contribute negatively to workplace productivity. One of the ways poor corporate culture manifests is through employee theft—and it’s not just about profits or staplers. When employees are disengaged from their duties, they’re more likely to take extraneous breaks, or taking longer breaks than permitted, which is theft of company time. This often comes from a rationalized perspective, in which the employee does not feel their own time is valued within the organization, and therefore will place the same perceived value on company time.
Whatever the type of theft, repeated instances of employee theft cannot be ignored. It may be a sign that your business or organization needs a corporate culture audit. A corporate culture audit is like a check-up—when you go into the doctor for a standard check-up, they evaluate all of your major bodily functions for signs of disease or deterioration, and a corporate culture audit is no different. When investigators conduct a corporate culture audit, they evaluate all of your business’s internal operations, hiring processes, and principle employees for roadblocks that hinder productivity and contribute to poor corporate culture. The identification of these pervasive issues will lead to investigators providing leadership with expert recommendations to dislodge the blockage, allowing the cycle of corporate culture to right itself through cause and effect.
If you think your business or organization needs a corporate culture audit, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our Corporate Culture Audit program. For over 30 years, Lauth has been providing corporations with solutions to stimulate their business. In pursuit of truth, call 317-951-1100, or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com.
When putting together a team to supervise your money, it helps to know who you’re dealing with…
Nonprofit organizations can do great work in promoting community growth, providing assistance to those in need, and raising money to fund research in the name of bringing solutions to some of the globe’s most comprehensive issues. These organizations must be above reproach, and as such, their board members must be individuals of the highest integrity. That’s why it’s imperative nonprofit organizations establish policy that dictates board members are subjected to a comprehensive background check.
It’s true that there is no requirement for a nonprofit organization to establish a board of directors, but an overwhelming majority of nonprofits do so. This is often a necessity, as many banks will not establish an account for a nonprofit without supervisory leadership. Donors also consider this leadership essential to ensuring their donations are spent wisely and in the best interest of the cause. In addition, organizations that issue grants are more interested in nonprofits in which their monetary awards are also well-managed, due mostly in part to the fact they must answer for how their monies are allocated. Small business journal, Chron, put it best, “The board’s duties are fiduciary. This means the board is trusted to act in the best interests of its organization, regardless of personal interest.”
A board of directors for a nonprofit is designed to promote progression within an organization by virtue of diverse management and comprehensive collaboration. Because an organization’s supervisory leadership can depend on their ability to serve their cause, that board must have impenetrable integrity. Therefore, even nonprofits cannot afford to skimp on background checks for leadership.
When establishing a board of directors, there are often misconceptions on what a comprehensive background check encompasses. The term “background check” is an umbrella term that can refer to one or all of a list of screening processes that both organizations and corporations use to verify the employability of an individual. This can include a report that offers details on a person’s criminal and employment history, and a review of their financial history.
A nonprofit background check is the first step in protecting your organization, but not every executive sees it that way. It’s not uncommon for nonprofits to cherry pick through the wide range of areas that a comprehensive background check includes, either to save time and/or money, or because only one or two areas of such a report are a priority for board leadership. Areas of high priority include criminal history, sex offender registry, or a basic credit report. Even if a nonprofit checked all of these boxes when conducting a background check, that would still not rise to the standard of comprehensive when verifying a potential board member’s history.
A comprehensive background check includes:
Verification of a candidate’s social security number
Information on registered vehicles
Relevant court documents
Military service records
Criminal registry information, such as sex offender registry
This list can sound staggering to the member of staff charged with appropriating an organization’s policy to screen a board candidate’s background. Screening a candidate’s background requires thorough research and a cross-reference of information against multiple open sources, such as public records, human sources, and social media. Even if the cost of obtaining supporting documents were not high, the labor hours to internal employees with day-to-day responsibilities can directly contribute to operational losses within a nonprofit organization.
These comprehensive screenings are crucial to the integrity of a nonprofit. After establishing a board of directors, any previously unknown and unflattering information regarding their history that may come to light cannot only be embarrassing for an organization but can negatively impact the support and assistance those nonprofits receive from donors and grant-awarding bodies. If information regarding a red flag in a board member’s history was publicly available (and not sealed by a court of law, or expunged from their record), and negligence occurs on behalf of the board’s supervisory capacity, there can be legal consequences as well. This is why corporations often run comprehensive background checks on their board of directors, or any other supervisory leadership. If for-profit corporations cannot afford to skimp on their background checks, there is no-doubt that nonprofits have even more at stake, including the opportunity to serve their cause.
Operational losses are why it can be prudent to retain an independent investigator to conduct background checks for a nonprofit organization. Firms like those of private investigators or risk assessment specialists can provide another layer of integrity when considering a candidate for board leadership. An external investigator’s independence and autonomy mean they have no stake in the results of a board candidate’s screening, and therefore only have loyalty to the truth. This is where nonprofits can consider candidates with the reassurance they have performed their due diligence, and have done so with the assistance of an objective third-party. All background screenings must be compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act legislation in disclosing the screening to the candidate.
From poor credit to criminal history, no detail is too small when it comes to establishing a board of directors for a nonprofit. Nonprofits may have marketing campaigns, but board diversity and integrity are how they attract monies from grant entities and major donors. That is why a comprehensive background check is an investment for nonprofits that will provide the security of due diligence with the integrity of independent screening.
Cyber criminals are evolving at an alarming rate. Cyber-security product developers are on an infinite loop with felons, each trying to out fox the other with regards to data breaches. Security is absolutely necessary for brick and mortar establishments due to a myriad of reasons, but in 2019, the name of the game is cyber-security. Not only are data breaches an efficient way to steal trade secrets and financial information from businesses, but they can also be done remotely. A proficient hacker or scammer can access a company’s vital company information from halfway across the world, and from that same location, can devastate the company. Within minutes, they can access financial information, trade secrets, distribution and delivery schedules, and private customer information. To prevent this from happening to your business, here are 5 cyber security measures every business should have:
This is Internet 101. Since the birth of the World Wide Web, we’ve been educating adults and children alike on the importance of having a strong password to access online accounts. Whether it’s a company’s financial information, or a Grubhub app on an executive’s phone, thieves can crack weak passwords to gain access. As such, it’s important passwords never contain personal information about an individual, especially if that information is visible on social media. Parents often include the name of their kids in their passwords, using their dates of birth for any numerical value requirement. Teens and young adults use the name of their favorite animal, sport, or music artist. Another common tactic is using common words that are easy to remember, and then spelling them backwards for a false sense of security. Experts at the National Cyber Security Alliance also do not recommend using sequences of characters that are near each other on the keyboard, such as “QWERTY,” the first six characters of the keyboard. The current recommended length for strong passwords is between 8-12 characters. If you’re unsure whether or not you password is secure, use an online password checker to verify the passwords level of cyber security.
Firewalls have been around almost as long as passwords. Firewalls are shields that protect your business from harmful or insidious traffic. When you connect to the internet, the system is constantly communicating with the wireless network, both sending and receiving units of information known as packets. Firewalls monitor these packets and perform a risk assessment, blocking unsafe packets. These firewalls protect your company’s data from unauthorized remote access by criminals.
Roland Cloutier, the Chief Security Officer for ADP, calls antivirus software “the last line of defense” when protecting your company’s data from hackers and other cyber-criminals. Not only can remote criminals access and view a company’s vital information, but they can also install vicious malware that will copy the target’s hard drive, and subsequently render the machine inoperable. Installing anti-virus and anti-malware programs aren’t enough, though. These programs need to be updated regularly as part of the infinite loop mentioned earlier. Every time a criminal finds a way to bypass an anti-malware product, the product requires changes to combat those breaches.
Laptops and Mobile Phones
It’s important to secure laptop computers and mobile smartphones associated with your business. For this, experts recommend encryption software so any remote felon attempting to access or copy the hard drive cannot do so without the proper password. They also stress the importance of never leaving these devices in ones vehicle, where they are easily accessible to thieves. “Lock-out” options are also standard for these devices in 2019. This setting allows you to establish a time period during which the phone lies idle. After that period expires, the phone locks itself, preventing anyone from accessing it without the password. Smartphones and laptops with remote-wipe features must be enabled. This way, if your device falls into the wrong hands, you can remotely wipe the device and prevent the leak of sensitive company information.
Last, but never least, it’s important your workforce is educated on the security measures in place and regularly enforces them on a day-to-day basis. Companies often neglect employee education under the false impression their IT team will be able to resolve all issues whenever they arise. The fact is, even IT professionals cannot anticipate every cyber threat, and may not be up-to-date on the very latest in cyber-criminal tactics. An ounce of this education is worth a pound of cure—Despite the level of technology literacy in the United States in 2019, an employer or business owner cannot assume an employee’s level of security knowledge. The prevention starts with employees, providing them with an intimate knowledge of company operations and how cyber security measures protect them.
Regardless of your company’s industry or size, all businesses must update and maintain their cyber security. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when criminals can bypass cyber security, and devastate a company in minutes.