With decades of experience in the sector, Jo Kamira is an investigator, trainer and author. These days, she heads up Capital Workplace Investigations, a boutique workplace relations company, and the only wholly owned and operated Indigenous human resources business in the country.
Jo’s life as an investigator began 20 years ago, when working in the university sector alongside MyKludo founder, Harriet Witchell. While teaching public service workers how to investigate misconduct, the pair hatched a plan that has shaped the rest of her career.
“I remember we sat down with a piece of paper and listed the pros and cons of conducting workplace investigations ourselves,” she says. “In fact I still have that piece of paper!”
A few weeks later, the work kicked off with an enquiry from a Human Resources Manager who was trying to figure out why one of her senior managers had repaid $78 worth of cab charges.
“I discovered a quarter of a million dollars’ worth of fraud and our business started!”
Today, Jo is involved in all aspects of workplace investigation.
“We investigate everything and anything in the workplace. That includes bullying and harassment, fraud, misconduct, malfeasance in office, and breaches of an organisation’s code of conduct.”
Culturally appropriate HR and workplace investigations
At Capital Workplace Investigations, however, Jo offers a significant point of difference.
“We provide ‘culturally appropriate HR’, including workplace investigations in an Indigenous, culturally sensitive way that is holistic in its approach. When it comes to workplace investigations, it’s about being culturally appropriate when interviewing and investigating, and in particular, understanding the cultural nuances of the people who we are interacting with.”
Connecting with people as an investigator
In fact, it is precisely this focus on connecting with people that has been the driving force throughout her career.
“I have met some amazing people and have some great friendships as a result. And I don’t take it personally when people say: ‘It’s been lovely to meet you but I hope I don’t meet you again in these circumstances!’”
This work is so much more than pouring over documents. To illustrate the point, she recalls an instance that took a surprising turn, and where she was able to make a real difference.
“When you undertake workplace investigations you often see people at their worst. Last week, I ran into a person from a government department I had investigated four years ago for alleged bullying and harassment. The investigation revealed he was the person being bullied and his boss, who had made the complaint, ended up having their contract terminated. This person told me that, as a result of the investigation and meeting me, they became interested in workplace investigations. They now work as an assistant investigator in another workplace investigations department area and they are halfway through their Cert IV in Government Investigations.”
Investigations and workplace training
When she’s not working on these investigations, Jo devotes her time to training, something she finds particularly rewarding, shaping the careers of future professionals.
“I am fortunate to be part of a team that is passionate about teaching the Cert IV in Government Investigations best practice.”
So what is her advice to those starting up in this field?
“Persevere, operate in an environment of continuous improvement, read and be responsible for your own professional development, believe in yourself, but be open to feedback.”
This training role involves much more than just working with future investigators, though; Jo is also making a difference for employees across a range of workplaces.
“I have been delivering webinars and training around racial conflict, and what that means for the workplace and workers. Whilst it’s important to call out racism on an individual level it’s also important to understand why we benefit from entrenched structures that allow certain things to happen and benefit a few.
“I’ve also been delivering communications training for a professional services company. It is so rewarding to be able to impart ways of working to some of the younger employees; for example, being responsive, answering emails in a timely manner, prioritising work et cetera. I think not enough of that is taught to new employees and they are often left to flounder, and that can lead to performance issues and, at worst, a potential workplace investigation.”
For all the details of Jo’s upcoming MyKludo webinar on tackling racism in the workplace, click here.
Alternatively, if you are from a workplace that’s looking for this kind of training or an investigator wanting to update your skills, our training services might be what you require.