Many firms encounter issues when relevant internal staff like the HR or Compliance Officer deal with  allegations of sexual misconduct without the benefit of basic investigative training. Experts like utilize the following basic principles of internal investigations:

  1. Be fair and objective. People involved in an investigation deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
  2. Prevent yourself from pre-judging. Have patience until all the witnesses have been interviewed and the evidence is being examined before reaching for factual determinations and the eventual conclusions.
  3. Prevent bias. If the key parties to the allegation of misconduct are personally known to the investigator or if any big shot authority is accused, an independent party should be brought in to conduct the investigation.
  4. Strategize and outline your investigation before beginning. Ponder through the points like who should be interviewed and in what sequence, what documents and evidence you should solicit before investigating certain witnesses, and what interim measures are required.
  5. Promptly investigate your leads. You may need to take some investigative steps immediately like saving electronic and other evidence. But an investigation should never be rushed or ended prematurely because of some arbitrary
  6. Keep the interrogation distinct and independent from the stakeholders. Particularly for sensitive matters, the big shot authorities involved may need to be informed of the investigation’s progress and preliminary findings. This should be prevented so as to not compromise the independence and integrity of the investigation itself.
  7. Prevent yourself from misleading a witness. Do not divulge the details of the investigation to your witnesses, do not promise anything and do not lie in order to make misleading statements to the witnesses.
  8. Protect confidentiality. Failure to implement reasonable precautions to protect the confidentiality of the investigation and the witness being interviewed can hamper with an organization’s reputation and could probably lead to cover ups, liability and retaliation.
  9. Protect reputations. There is nothing that can undermine the credibility of an investigation more severely than if the investigation process fails to properly protect the reputation of the parties involved, directly or indirectly.
  10. Investigate acts of retaliation. If any report or allegation of retaliation against a person who brought forth the misconduct or any other witness is received, the alleged retaliation must be investigated immediately and thoroughly.

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