How Independent are “Independent” Investigations?

How fair and impartial are so-called independent investigations? From the many reports victims have provided us, and based on what we’ve heard from lawyers representing other victims, they often fall short of their name.  Many feel they have been used as a crafty tool to exonerate the organization that hired the investigator and pays their bills. In other cases, cozy back-channel communications between the investigator and the organization that hired them, such as digging up information about the complainant and making her the initial focus of the investigation, especially if the respondent is a high-ranking employee (this actually happened in a case involving a large Canadian bank and a leading outside law firm that specializes in sexual misconduct investigations), can fatally compromise confidence in the objectivity and neutrality of the process.  Many organizations today are turning to outside investigations in response to #MeToo fuelled demands for change. Since the impact of a botched or rigged investigation can be as traumatizing as the incident it’s intended to address, we think it’s time for a closer look.