This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are used for visitor analysis, others are essential to making our site function properly and improve the user experience. By using this site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Click Accept to consent and dismiss this message or Deny to leave this website. Read our Privacy Statement for more.
2018 AWI Annual Conference Schedule
Share |
Untitled Document

2018 AWI Conference Banner San Francisco

Jump to Thursday | Friday | Saturday

Schedule is subject to change.

Thursday, October 11

12:00 - 5:00 pm


1:00 - 1:15 pm


1:15 - 2:45 pm

Weinstein and #MeToo One Year Later: Guidance for the Workplace Investigator

Deborah Maddux, Liz Rita, Julie Moore

The allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other high profile individuals are shifting the landscape of sexual harassment prevention. Employees are more emboldened to raise complaints, Plaintiff’s counsel are more energized, and the work climate is under more scrutiny than ever before. This session will examine this phenomenon and what it means to the workplace. Our expert panel will discuss how this phenomenon is changing the investigations practice. We will present how to incorporate new resources available to investigators, such as the 2018 EEOC guidance, regarding how to conduct investigations in this new era. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand how employers are experiencing the heightened scrutiny on sexual harassment as a result of the #MeToo movement;
  2. Highlight claims emerging out of this movement, including respondent-based gender stereotyping claims and complainant-based gender exclusion claims;
  3. Discuss some of the thorny issues emerging for investigators;
  4. Review guidance and resources available to investigators. 

2:45 - 3:00 pm


3:00 - 4:15 pm

Compassion Fatigue: Acknowledge it, Recognize it, Manage it

Oliver McKinstry

As investigators, we help others address difficult situations on a daily basis. We see people in the midst of tough situations, often on their worst days. We help our businesses and clients work through these situations, taking care of them along the way. But we don't always care for ourselves in the same way. The long-term impact is known as compassion fatigue and failing to address it not only impacts an investigator's ability to do their important work, but more importantly, can impact work-life alignment with lasting negative impact.

Developing strategies and tools to recognize compassion fatigue, acknowledge compassion fatigue when it happens, and work through it to keep it from derailing a day, a business relationship, long-term career goals, and personal well-being is important and through this program, we'll learn to do so in an actionable way. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand what compassion fatigue is and how is manifests
  2. Understand those situations when compassion is most likely to occur
  3. Develop a language to communicate the signs and impacts of compassion fatigue
  4. Develop tools to use in short and long-term settings to address signs and causes of compassion fatigue and maintain a positive work/life alignment. 

4:15 - 4:30 pm


4:30 - 5:30 pm

When Your Case Involves Violence Risk: Who Should Assess What, Critical Do's and Don'ts for Investigators, and What to Expect from Assessment Experts

S.G. White, Rebecca Speer

Workplace violence and the fear of violence in organizational settings is a constant in our current social climate. The assessment of workplace or organizational violence risk is a specialty that has advanced significantly in the last 30 years. Investigators may find themselves participating in cases that uncover risks of violence or that include the employer's engagement of a threat assessment expert. In this presentation, Dr. Stephen White, an internationally-recognized psychologist who specializes in workplace violence risk assessment, and attorney-investigator Rebecca Speer, will provide an update on the motives, risk factors, and warning behaviors for workplace targeted violence, best practices for risk mitigation, and critical do's and don'ts for investigators. The similarities and differences between a risk assessment and a misconduct investigation will be discussed, as well as case examples illustrating how violence risk issues arise and what collaboration with a threat assessment expert looks like for workplace investigators. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify empirically-based risk factors for workplace targeted violence and the criteria to distinguish “making” a threat versus “posing” a threat
  2. Identify indicators of potential motives for violence within misconduct investigation contexts
  3. Identify appropriate strategies for probing for violence risk information during a workplace investigation, as well as risky or ill-advised questions
  4. Identify the qualifications for workplace violence risk assessment professionals and best practice standards for violence prevention in organizational settings
  5. Identify strategies for managing fear in investigations involving violence risk concerns 

6:00 - 9:00 pm

Networking Dinner Ticketed event, pre-registration is required. Tickets are $75.

Friday, October 12

7:45 - 5:00 pm


7:45 - 9:00 am

Continental Breakfast

7:45 - 8:15 am

Optional Committee Meetings: Details to be provided to committee members. If you are interested in joining one of the committees, please visit our Committee Page.

8:30 - 8:45 am


8:45 - 9:45 am

Gender Identity and Effective Workplace Investigations

Nora Rohman

Understanding the challenges that transgender and gender non-conforming people face in the workplace is essential to conducting effective and unbiased investigations. Many states, cities, and public and private employers have designated gender identity as a class protected from discrimination. Complaints involving gender identity are becoming more prevalent and visible, ranging from concerns over access to bathrooms, to trans-inclusive hiring practices. 

Terminology and issues affecting the trans community are complex and dynamic, and unfamiliar to many investigators. 

This presentation provides real-world examples of how issues involving the trans community are playing out in the workplace, including conducting interviews, examining bias, building rapport, report writing, and retaining talented staff. An awareness and understanding of these concepts will enhance our ability to recognize and eliminate bias in our own work, our profession, and society in general.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Introduce concepts and terms about gender identity 
  2. Explore dimensions of gender identity and the gender spectrum with common terminology 
  3. Discuss implications for report writing 
  4. Discuss interview techniques and tools to make the interview as smooth, clear and comfortable as possible 

9:45 - 10:00 am


10:00 - 11:00 am

Keynote: Addressing Unintentional Bias 

Victoria Plaut, Berkeley Law, University of California, Professor of Law and Social Science, Director, Culture, Diversity & Intergroup Relations Lab

No one likes to think of themselves as biased, but each of us inhabits contexts that shape our expectations and judgments of others. What does psychological science teach us about our biases and how to address them? In this session we will examine the science of implicit bias: what it is, where it comes from, and what encourages it. We will learn that the mind forms habits that we are unaware of and may even find surprising, and that certain conditions make bias more or less likely to manifest. We will also examine empirical evidence of the systematic ways that our biases can infiltrate decision processes that are relevant to interviewing, hiring, evaluation, discipline, and how we treat others. Finally, we will consider research-based examples of solutions with particular relevance to the investigative context.

11:00 - 11:15 am


11:15 am - 12:15 pm

Fake News and the Phantom Advisor: How Outside Influences Impact Witness Interviews

Sarah Worley

Witness interviews are an integral part of any workplace investigation. With the proliferation of information -- some accurate and some not -- through the internet and social media, witnesses often come into interview settings armed with opinions and advice from questionable sources. This presentation examines the different kinds of external sources that inform witnesses and explores how motivation and ideology can influence judgment. This presentation also probes how bias can be amplified by motivation and ideology in both the interviewer and interviewee. This presentation will offer practical tips to assist the interviewer in identifying and checking bias, as well as addressing challenges posed by the influence of outside sources upon interviewees. 

Learning Objectives:

1. Understand how people gather and process information
2. Understand how certain kinds of information influence judgment
3. Appreciate how outside influences can amplify bias
4. Learn techniques to assist the interviewer in overcoming obstacles to effective interviewing that may be created by bias

12:15 - 1:15 pm


1:15 - 2:45 pm

Institutional Betrayal, Part 2: Can a fair and impartial investigation be trauma-informed?

Richard Hart, Alec Smidt, Shirley Nakata

This presentation will look more deeply at the implications of institutional betrayal and betrayal trauma theory for workplace investigation principles, practice and process, by delving into a series of case studies. We will examine why and how the facets of each case meets criteria for institutional betrayal (or not), and consider different ways that current empirical research and theory may inform workplace investigations, including the following:

  • Eliciting “good information” through trauma-informed interviewing
  • Interpreting information & assessing credibility
  • Investigation scope
  • Investigation practice
  • Investigator recommendations

This presentation will review current empirical research on how investigators can leverage processes, principles and practices to generate better investigation outcomes, considered through the framework provided by institutional betrayal and betrayal trauma theory. We will also specifically consider potential application of Freyd’s (2018) steps to promote institutional courage in relation to workplace investigations. 

Learning Objectives:
After attending this presentation, employers and workplace investigators will:

  1. Describe the concept of institutional betrayal and related criteria, as well as the associated negative psychological and physical outcomes
  2. Identify specific examples of institutional betrayal from the case studies presented and in their own investigations/workplaces
  3. Implement strategies and tactics for preventing and mitigating institutional betrayal risks that can otherwise arise through the conduct of workplace investigations
  4. Describe the current state of empirical research on institutional betrayal and betrayal trauma theory relevant to the process, principles, and practice of workplace investigations

1:15 - 2:45 pm

Seeing New Things in the Same Rooms

Lee Jay Berman

In order to be masterful, Workplace Investigators need to see things differently, hear things differently, and perhaps proceed differently in their investigations. In this Experiential Workshop, we reach far outside of classic training and introduce and practice the tools that advanced Workplace Investigators draw upon that allow them to function at a higher level, including deep insights in self-awareness and biases, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to build rapport and understanding, neuroscience, the psychology of manipulation, and raising your perceptual levels. This workshop is for Workplace Investigators who want to access more of their own capacity to see and absorb information, enhance their communication skills, and make more of a difference with their work.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn how to see the world as a master workplace investigator
  2. Learn how to use neuroscience and NLP to build rapport and understanding
  3. Learn how to enhance your communication skills and develop facilitation tools to take your investigations to the next level 

2:45 - 3:00 pm


3:00 - 4:15 pm

Put Your Investigation in the Best Light - Common Areas of Attack in Investigations

Morin Jacob

An effective investigation is both a shield and sword in defending litigation. Persuasive testimony from the investigator can mean the difference between winning and losing a lawsuit. We will explore how investigators can best defend their investigations under tough examination and cross-examination. Taught by a seasoned litigator, this session will help prepare you for the hard questions and put your report in the best possible light under cross-examination. It will include topics such as understanding which communications are privileged, common areas of attack pertaining to investigations and effective testimony to support an investigation. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn how to protect your investigation from the common areas of attack in litigation
  2. Learn best practices for effective testimony to support an investigation
  3. Understand which communications are privileged in an investigation 

3:00 - 4:15 pm

The Role of Investigation in Transforming a Culture of Harassment

Bobbi K Dominick

The #MeToo social media movement has many speaking out about their experiences, and has renewed this focus for organizations: how do we create an organization that does not tolerate harassment? While there are many moving parts to examine (leadership, culture, systems, etc.) how does the complaint investigation process enhance the effort to, or detract from, transforming the culture? Using high profile cases, we will look at what research and practice tell us about the investigative response and its impact on eliminating harassment in the workplace. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Creating investigative protocols that assure that complaints are taken seriously
  2. Assuring that those in a supervisory or leadership role understand their appropriate responses and the impact of those responses on the cultural norms
  3. Assuring that the investigation is neutral and unbiased
  4. Assuring that confidentiality does not impair the ability of the organization to assure the team and reinforce a cultural norm of intolerance for harassment

4:15 - 4:30 pm


4:30 - 5:30 pm

Moving Beyond Cultural Competence

Layma Ahmadzai, Linda Imonode-Skemer, Nerissa Irizarry

From start to finish, an investigation is subjective. Despite an investigator’s best efforts to “focus on the facts,” the perceptions of the parties, witnesses, and even the investigator herself are informed by race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and various other identities of privilege (or oppression). Many of us have received cultural competence trainings that highlight eye contact, personal space, and language as markers of racial or cultural difference. This presentation goes beyond those commonly used examples to explore the less obvious, often subtle ways that intersecting identities inform an investigation. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Increase understanding of how race, class, gender, power, and privilege might impact the parties in your investigations
  2. Increase understanding of how these same factors might impact you as an investigator during an investigation
  3. Identify tools to strengthen your approach to issues of race, class, gender, power, and privilege that arise while conducting an internal or external investigation

4:30 - 5:30 pm

No Ghosting Allowed: Perfecting the Art of Effective Communications with Employees During Investigations

Britt-Marie Cole-Johnson, Abby Warren

Communicating with employees is an art and when it comes to communicating during a crisis or a stressful time, such as an investigation, it is crucial that investigators perfect such communications, particularly for internal investigators. While investigations inevitably impact employees and the workplace, effective communication can assist investigators in garnering employee trust and cooperation, limiting the impact of the investigation on the workplace, and preserving the integrity of the investigation. On the other hand, failure to communicate or to effectively communicate can create frustration, distrust, and resentment, which can impact the integrity of the investigation and lead to employee relations issues and litigation. This presentation will explore the human resources and employee relations side of strong employee communications as well as the legal issues and associated risks involved. 

Learning Objectives:
Participants will:

  1. Explore the importance of clear communication during an investigation from an employee relations and legal perspective
  2. Understand the types of communications that are typically made and how such communications can be tailored based on the workplace and the investigation
  3. Appreciate the balance that must be achieved between transparency and confidentiality during an investigation
  4. Determine how to handle employee questions and concerns
  5. Learn techniques for handling leaks and communications crises in the workplace

5:45 - 7:30 pm

Cocktail Reception

Saturday, October 13

8:00 - 12:00 pm


8:00 - 9:00 am

Continental Breakfast

8:30 - 8:45 am


8:45 - 9:45 am

Sexual Harassment: A March through the Decades – From the 1950’s to Now

Amy Oppenheimer

Coming soon.

9:45 - 10:15 am


10:15 - 11:15 am

It's a Crime (Maybe). Dealing with Concurrent Criminal and Workplace Investigations

Michael Robbins, Paul Grech Jr.

Well-known criminal defense attorney Paul Grech (Grech & Packer) and well-known workplace investigator and expert witness, Michael A. Robbins (EXTTI, Incorporated) will discuss the intersection between workplace investigations into misconduct allegations and concurrent criminal investigations into the same issues. During the program, particular emphasis will be placed on the #MeToo investigations as well as investigations into misconduct allegations allegedly committed by public officials.

Mr. Grech will present the perspective of a criminal defense attorney who has represented many clients who have been accused of workplace misconduct; which conduct also could constitute criminal behavior. 

Mr. Robbins will present the perspective of a workplace investigator who has looked into many allegations of workplace misconduct occurring at the same time as criminal investigations into the same conduct. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. How to handle investigations with criminal implications
  2. How to handle investigations when a criminal investigation is being conducted at the same time
  3. How to handle high-profile investigations
  4. Dealing with criminal defense attorneys who represent a party or parties in the investigation

11:15 - 11:30 am


11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Rebuilding Teams After an Investigation

Lynne Eisaguirre

Most organizations are too quick to tell everyone to just "get back to work!" after an investigation ends. Yet most managers and employees will not be able to go back to their previous level of efficiency and engagement without some intervention. People take sides, rumors proliferate, paranoia rules. Learn how to help people move on and become productive again. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. How to safely educate investigation participants about the how's and why's of investigations
  2. How to stop rumors and prevent paranoia and retaliation
  3. How to find out what people need to move on and what they're willing to contribute to rebuild the team

12:30 pm

Conference Adjourns

12:30 - 1:00 pm

Annual Business Meeting of Members

1:00 - 1:30 pm

Optional Committee Meetings: Details to be provided to committee members. If you are interested in joining one of the committees, please visit our Committee Page.

back to top