Sexual Harassment & Corporate Culture Audits

Sexual Harassment & Corporate Culture Audits

Sexual harassment in the workplace can create a hostile environment for employees and decrease workfroce morale.

The #MeToo movement has fundamentally changed the conversation around reporting and documenting allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. Victims of this harassment have previously been restricted by a pervasive culture of silence and shame within the workplace—a culture where reporters are vilified and characterized as dishonest people with an axe to grind. Now, with many victims of sexual harassment publicizing their experiences in the workplace, more and more people are feeling empowered to seek justice for their treatment.

The Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported in their annual fiscal report that sexual harassment filings had an overall increase of 13.6% from 2018. The EEOC also denoted that they secured nearly $70 million for the victims of sexual harassment through enforcement on behalf of administration. These are just a few ways that the EEOC is attempting to make themselves the new champions of workplace harassment reporting in effort to improve the culture around reporting and enforcement. The EEOC seeks to empower employers to create a corporate culture within their organization that does not demonize reporting and encourages thorough investigations of all claims. By fostering this open and transparent workplace culture, employers create spaces for their employees that are safe, respectful, and thriving environment.

For a myriad of reasons, employers may have difficulty in performing due-diligence on sexual harassment claims. Whether the employer does not find the complaint credible, or as a result of oversight, when no investigation is conducted into the complaint, the organization opens itself up to subsequent litigation and a public relations nightmare. However, there are affirmative defenses for employers who can document their attempts to create a safe environment for their employees. One of the ways employers can document this is by submitting their organization to a corporate culture audit.

A corporate culture audit is one of the best investments that an employer can make in 2019. These audits are typically conducted by independent risk assessment firms and in some cases, even private investigators. In essence, a corporate culture audit is basically a check-up for a business or organization—not unlike taking your car in for scheduled maintenance. An auditor will enter the work environment and conduct a series of assessments based on a previously-set agenda. The goal of the auditor is to review internal processes and the physical location (if applicable) and identify issues that could have negative consequences for the corporation or organization, such as faulty investigation procedures for internal complaints.

Not only can these audits protect businesses and organizations in the aftermath of a sexual harassment claim, but corporate culture audits can also improve your business from within. What we know about the cycle of corporate culture indicates that when employees feel valued, they are more engaged and more productive as a result. The audit also evaluates the organization’s internal operations for efficacy and efficiency. By identifying flaws within internal operations, corporations can modify those procedures to increase productivity. Corporate culture audits are an invaluable opportunity for organizations to bolster their business and improve the overall health of the workplace.

If you want to give your business a tune-up, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our corporate culture program. We are an independent private investigation firm specializing in corporate investigations and crimes against persons. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and scores of 5-star ratings on Google. Call today and learn how we can improve your business from within.

Corporate Culture Audit: What to Expect During an Audit

Corporate Culture Audit: What to Expect During an Audit

corporate culture audits

Pervasive internal issues are the malignancies that contribute to the decline of any corporation. While they come in many shapes and iterations, issues like communication, employee engagement, and employee relations can quickly derail a corporation’s mission. That’s why corporations across the country are electing to undergo corporate culture audits in order to get a full picture of what the internal issues are so they can make concentrated efforts towards improving their business.

No two culture audits will ever be the same—which is as it should be. Every company or organization is fundamentally different from one other, not only due to its structure and size, but because no workforce should be evaluated with the same measuring stick as another. It’s imperative that the context of every single corporation be fully explored. Full context can include, but is never limited to things like corporate mission, vision, values, internal operations, structure, and leadership.

Undergoing corporate culture audits is the first real step in addressing pervasive issues within the workplace. Think of it as an annual physical or checkup with a physician for your business. When you go to the doctor, you undergo an examination, and the specialists run tests in order to determine how healthy you are—a corporate culture audit is no different. A corporate culture auditor comes in and evaluates the level of functionality within your corporation so you can start implementing strategies to improve and grow your business. Here are some things that a corporate auditor might look at when they evaluate a corporation or organization:

  • Is everyone in the company invested in the same things?
  • What are the valued differences between your corporation and the competition?
  • What are the key measures of success within your company?
  • What is the functionality of the leadership in place versus the leadership required for success?
  • What are the environmental factors that are contributing to the decline in culture?
  • What is the history of your company’s culture from its foundation?
  • What are the subcultures that have formed in your organization and what is their role within the company?

Corporate culture audits usually begin by speaking to leadership. As the old adage goes, “The fish stinks from the head.” Many problems within an organization can be traced back to problems with leadership, and corporate culture auditors evaluate from the top down. Even if a CEO or manager is engaged in supervision of daily operations, they may still be making daily mistakes that contribute to stalls in the process.

Once leadership has been evaluated, auditors turn their attention to internal operations. This involves looking at the chain of command, the productivity flow (how the integral processes move from employee to employee), and the quality of communication throughout the company. This might involve interviewing department heads, reviewing meeting minutes, and evaluating the environment of the workplace. This step is crucial, because regardless of the leadership or employees in place, if the ecosystem of the workplace is flawed, it can be difficult for even the most efficient, engaged employee to achieve success.

Evaluating the environment and internal operations is tantamount to establishing a bulletproof process for success—leaving the workforce as one of the final pillars to be examined by the auditor. When you seek a comprehensive picture of your employees’ level of engagement, it’s important for auditors to identify the subcultures that are either contributing or derailing your company’s mission and values. For example—there might be a cluster of apathetic employees, who are not only disengaging together, but their behavior actively encourages other employees to exhibit the same habits. This kind of apathy can be a cancer in your corporation and may spread to other parts of your workforce, further contributing to the decline of business.

Most importantly, at the conclusion of the audit, an investigator will prepare a detailed report with very explicit recommendations for how to fix the problems within the corporation or organization. This could include items such as the termination of toxic employees, the revitalization of internal operations, and necessary changes to a brick and mortar locations for increased security or higher accountability. Once the audit is complete, the burden of change lies with leadership to become beacons of change within the internal structure. Corporate culture begins to improve when leadership enforces changes from the top, allowing their example to trickle down through the organization in the form of higher accountability and increased engagement.

If your corporation is suffering from a corporate crisis, don’t hesitate. Corporate culture audits are pulling more and more companies back into the black every day. Even if the crisis seems relatively minor, it could be symptomatic of a larger problem within your organization. Call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our brand-new Corporate Culture Audit (CCA) program. Our dedicated and qualified staff composed of former military and law enforcement officers will get to the bottom of your internal problems. With Lauth Investigations International, you can expect hands-on, comprehensive services, detailed reports, and expert recommendations. When it comes to your business or organization, you should only expect facts, not fiction.

The Cycle of Corporate Culture

The Cycle of Corporate Culture

Culture can be the beginning and end of your company. Many executives and other members of leadership simply think of corporate culture as what the company stands for. This can be expressed through a corporation’s mission statement, their reported “vision,” or their promise to deliver their customers with the best products and services available. Corporate culture actually goes much deeper, beneath the surface to which the consumer public is privy. The MISTI Training Institute actually defines corporate culture as “the set of enduring and underlying assumptions and norms that determine how things are actually done in the organization.” It is not enough for leadership to state that they have inspiring beliefs and mission statements, if they do not run corporations to reflect those beliefs.

Even after hearing a more definitive explanation of corporate culture, many executives may still shrug their shoulders and insist that they have a great corporate culture. They think operations are streamlined, employees are engaged, and there are no weak links in the chain. They take solace in the fact that they have things like Taco Tuesdays, or Casual Fridays that improve the work environment and keep employees happy. While these are great ways to foster comradery within the workforce, they are band aid solutions to happy employees. The bottom line is: Healthy corporate culture begins with happy employees.

A recent study conducted by Glassdoor indicates that a majority of working individuals in the United States would prefer a healthy corporate culture to a higher salary or rate of pay. Their day-to-day becomes manageable when they feel as if they are part of a larger team. This graphic displays the cyclical nature of healthy corporate culture in motion. The cycle begins with happy employees. When trying to improve employee morale, leadership should strongly consider an internal audit of their company’s culture to identify pervasive issues within their corporation’s operating structure. Events like birthday parties for employees, or buying lunch for the office every few weeks are nice gestures by leadership, but they cannot act as solutions to repetitive issues. When these issues are not addressed within the corporation, employees often feel as if their value begins and ends with their productivity, as if they are cogs in a larger machine they cannot control. When leadership actively engages with employee concern on operation issues and makes dedicated and focused attempts to fix them, employees feel as if their voices are heard and their input is valued within the organization.

This leads to improved engagement on behalf of those valued employees. They are prompt to work, freshly-groomed and instilled with a sense of purpose as their co-workers progress with them towards the organization’s goal. The level of communication between employees will not only improve in quality, but the rate of response to correspondence also has the potential to increase dramatically, because the employees are engaged in the process and are eager to complete tasks on time—possibly even early.

Once employee engagement is up, leadership can expect to see an increase in the productivity of the workforce as a whole. Engaged employees approach their task with the confidence of a professional, and the confidence that comes from the feeling of support within the organization. Studies have shown that productivity can increase by as much as 28% when a corporation’s culture is given a major overhaul.

When productivity increases, everybody in the company benefits. Having their requisites satisfied, leadership can let their focus extend beyond daily operations. This expanded scope of supervision leads to higher engagement on behalf of leadership, which feeds back into a healthy work environment in which they are happy to reward the stellar performance of their employees. When employees feel their work is valued, the cycle begins anew.

This shared body of beliefs that the company claims to have in the public eye should go all the way to the CEO and be directly reflected in the day to day operations of the company. When leadership remains plugged in and continues to expand the scope of their supervision, internal issues cannot pervade within the workplace. In healthy work environments, the level of improvement that can occur week to week will only serve the company’s larger goals.

A Nonprofit Background Check Can Save Your Organization

A Nonprofit Background Check Can Save Your Organization

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
  • Work history
  • Credit check
  • Driving records
  • Criminal records
  • Information on registered vehicles
  • Relevant court documents
  • Reference quality
  • Asset ownership
  • 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.