Executives hold a lot of power, and their misconduct can wreak havoc on your company if they aren’t handled quickly. This means that you should consider looking into any suspicious activity by one of your executives to avoid severe financial and reputational damages. Unfortunately, executive misconduct often goes unnoticed until the situation blows out of proportion because the lower-level staff doesn’t think to investigate their boss.
What Do Executives Do That Requires Investigation?
There are many reasons to investigate a top executive. However, some, such as sexual harassment, are not easy to spot unless a victim comes forward about the executive’s ethical violation.
Here are some examples of executive misconduct that you should look out for:
Financial misconduct can present itself in several ways. The most common is failing to place a client’s funds into an escrow account. Typically, the unethical executive will put the client’s money into a personal or business account instead of an approved escrow account. This can severely impact your business by damaging its reputation, lowering its profit margin via lost funds, and severing client relationships.
Many executives exploit their power and use it to make sexual advances toward other employees. Sexual harassment violations can take the form of explicit comments, asking for sexual favors, making inappropriate physical advances, etc.
Conflict of Interest
A conflict of interest typically involves a professional who betrays a client’s or the company’s trust and places them at risk. Companies usually experience these situations when an executive acts in their own interest rather than for the good of the company. For example, a CEO may choose to hire a relative rather than someone more qualified for the position.
Mishandling Sensitive Information
Improperly handling documentation is a common form of executive misconduct in many industries. When documents that contain confidential information aren’t handled according to regulatory standards, a person or company’s privacy, finances, and safety are at risk.
How Do You Conduct an Executive Investigation?
If you suspect that an executive in your company is engaging in unethical activity, there are a few steps that you should take.
Determine if an Investigation Is Needed
A full-fledged investigation isn’t always necessary. However, It’s often best to err on the side of caution because if the issue is more disastrous than it appeared, it can lead to legal penalties and continued workplace issues.
Choose Who Will Conduct the Investigation
For an effective investigation, you will need someone who is experienced, impartial, and can do something about the situation. In some cases, the investigator may also need to testify in court. Some companies rely on their HR or legal departments to handle investigations, and others hire external support.
Plan the Investigation
It’s important for the investigator assigned to an executive misconduct case to have a plan of action before beginning the investigation. They will start by gathering any available information pertaining to the issue and then use it to guide how they will continue the investigation.
Most workplace investigations require at least two interviews: one with the employee who complained and the other with the employee accused of misconduct. Witnesses are also sometimes interviewed if they have seen or heard anything relevant to the incident.
Collect Evidence and Documents
Evidence is a critical part of investigations, as it serves as a concrete way to prove the business’s side of the case. Potential pieces of evidence include emails, drugs, potentially violated company policies, photographs, correspondences, personnel files, weapons, and stolen items.
Analyze the Evidence
Investigators have the task of determining where the truth lies when considering evidence and witness testimonies. This can be the most challenging part of an investigation, and you will have to rely on your instincts to determine what makes the most sense.
Document the Investigation
Once the investigator has finished the investigation and reached a conclusion, they will need to write a report on what they did and why. Having a report available comes in handy if a lawsuit occurs since it serves as written proof that you had a professional look into the misconduct issue. In addition, the report can serve as a written record in case of future misconduct.
If you are unsure of where to start or want to ensure that your investigation is as thorough as possible, it’s a good idea to turn to the experts. Our team at Barefoot Professional Investigations is here to help you scope out any fishy individuals in your company. That way, you can avoid serious consequences.
If you suspect that one of your top executives is committing misconduct, you must take action immediately. Contact us today to speak to one of our experts.