Measuring is an ongoing and cyclical process that involves data collection, analysis, communication, operationalization and refreshing.
The term “measuring” will be used throughout this section to capture the process of data collection, analysis, communication, operationalisation and refresh. Why is measuring important? It’s important because we need to understand the prevalence of sexual harassment, the nature of sexual harassment - when, where and how it occurs - who is involved and what form it takes, and the impacts it has on workers, businesses, communities, and society more broadly. We need to base what we do on evidence - so we need to measure to help us evaluate how effective we are in preventing sexual harassment.
Measuring should be seen as a cyclical and continuous process rather than a one-off exercise.
We know that less than 20% of workers who experience sexual harassment report their experience. Therefore, measuring systems that narrowly focus on reported incidents of sexual harassment and the nature and prevalence of those reported incidents, will be ineffective and insufficient. An effective measuring approach will collect and analyse quantitative and qualitative data to allow you to understand, identify, measure, and monitor the:
- Prevalence of sexual harassment in your workplace i.e., amount or frequency (not just formally reported cases);
- Nature of sexual harassment in your workplace i.e., when where and how it occurs, who is involved and what form it takes;
- Systemic trends and patterns relating to culture, and drivers of sexual harassment in your organisation, including in relation to corporate culture;
- Impact that sexual harassment has on your workers, your business, the community, and society;
- Risks unique to your organisation and industry and existing or emerging trends, and
- Nature and effectiveness of initiatives designed to prevent and respond to sexual harassment through each of the seven domains.
In turn, this approach enables the communication of insights and results, and the operationalisation of those insights to improve processes and systems. It enables:
- Data-informed decision making and the development and implementation of the most effective approach for your people and your organisation;
- Continuous improvement of sexual harassment prevention and response initiatives;
- Accountability and transparency not only in relation to the prevalence and nature of sexual harassment in your organisation but also your response processes and progress against your sexual harassment prevention and response plan;
- Opportunities for cross-industry collaboration on specific risks or trends and shared learnings that may benefit workplaces of a similar nature; and
- Broader community and public disclosure and recognition through gender equality or corporate sustainability.
Elements of an effective measuring process
Practical guidelines for effective measuring through each phase of the process are set out below:
There are many different sources of data relating to sexual harassment. Before determining which data sources are useful and required it’s important to have a clear understanding of exactly what you seek to measure. Without this it’s easy to fall into the trap of measuring only what you already know. A key purpose of measuring is to gain insights into issues that you don’t already know and that help guide you toward preventing sexual harassment occurring in the future. Keep in mind also that some data sources are easier to measure than others. Some relate to how your organisation responds to incidents while others provide insights into potential preventative strategies. In defining what you seek to measure ask yourself:
- What is the purpose of measuring sexual harassment in our workplace? Is it largely to help develop preventative strategies or to better respond to incidents? Or a combination of both?
- What do we already know about sexual harassment in our workplace? How do we know this?
- What can we discover from other workplaces and industries that might help us define what we need to know?
- Will the timing of data collection have an impact on what you are able to measure?
Asking yourself these questions will help to determine the most relevant data sources for your organisation before defining the metrics and developing your structured data collection process. Data sources should be varied and enable you to:
- measure and address sexual harassment incidents that have arisen, including how your organisation has responded to incidents and supported people;
- identify potential cultural issues and other drivers and enablers of sexual harassment;
- measure and track progress and effectiveness of your prevention and response framework;
- be transparent with (and meet expectations of) your workforce, external stakeholders and the community about the prevalence, nature of sexual harassment in your workplace and your actions to prevent it; and
- meet regulatory reporting requirements.
These are the principles which should guide your data source selection. Some common sources of data collection are in the table below:
|Data to measure and address sexual harassment incidents||Common sources of data collection|
** These may also be relevant data sources to prevent sexual harassment and identify potential cultural issue and other drivers (below).
|Data to PREVENT sexual harassment and IDENTIFY potential cultural and other DRIVERS||
Collecting accurate and insightful data can present challenges. Being aware of these challenges will provide opportunity to actively implement strategies to overcome and avoid the pitfalls:
|Challenge||How to address|
Narrow data set
For example, data focused largely on reported or substantiated sexual harassment cases, or a focus on measures that are aligned with existing cultural objectives
|Expand the data you collect to include a variety of sources and indicators in recognition of systematic drivers of sexual harassment and risk factors. Ensure there is a reliable basis for selecting metrics and measures used.|
Inconsistent or incomplete data collection
For example, if there are multiple channels available for reporting of incidents (e.g., leader, HR, EAP, whistleblowing program etc.), each with differing data formats, and there is no centralised data repository.
|Implement a standard data collection template and process that covers all reporting channels. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet with data validation controls in place, or a sophisticated case management system. An example good practice guideline for case management can be downloaded here.|
Inconsistent data collecting cadence within your organisation, which can impact effective evaluation and analysis.
For example, one division might be collecting quarterly aggregated data while another one may be monitoring it on a month-on-month basis.
|Develop clear and consistent cadence for collecting data across the organisation.|
Knowledge gap for those responsible for collecting and inputting data regarding sexual harassment, which can impact data integrity and comprehensiveness.
For example, important information may be unknowingly missed or lack necessary details in case management systems; or interviews and focus groups may miss key data due to lack of confidence or inexperience probing into delicate topics. See our information on Collecting and Using Data for more information about conducting focus groups.
|Invest in training and capability uplift for those responsible for collecting and inputting data to ensure they understand workplace sexual harassment and the drivers and risk factors.
Data collection methods which focus narrowly on obtaining information, without consideration for the wellbeing and confidentiality of the people sharing their experiences through the process. This risks re-traumatisation of victims and undermines your organisational commitment to embedding a culture of safety, respect and trust.
For example, conducting interviews or discussion groups with people about their experiences of sexual harassment where the facilitator is not trauma informed, gives no consideration to creating a safe space for sharing and offers no psychological or other wellbeing support to the participants after the interview.
Ensure data collection methods involving surveys or discussion groups are psychologically and physically safe for people who participate.
Ensuring that those conducting interviews or discussion groups are trauma informed and do not put workers at risk of harm.
Ensure that the information does not identify individuals. Ensure that the victim consents to data collection and the method and scope of the inquiry.
Ensure support is available to victims throughout and after the process of data collection, e.g., following up with an interviewee, or offering EAP.
|Responsibility and accountability for data collection is not clearly allocated and/or data is mostly collected reactively in response to specific requests or questions. This will result in an incomplete data set and impediments to accurate and fulsome analysis.||Clearly and proactively allocate responsibility and accountability for data collection in relation to sexual harassment. This can include building data collection into staff roles and organisational policy so that data collection becomes common practice and business as usual.|
Once a data collection process has been established and metrics defined, the next step is to build the analytics capability to help extract meaningful analysis.
Raw data can be misleading, and so the real value comes from analysing the data, understanding the context, and looking at trends over time. It is important to interrogate, synthesise and triangulate the data to get a full picture of what is going on in your organisation and identify trends over time, indicative of risks and the effectiveness of your sexual harassment strategy.
Analysing the data means :
A commonly used approach of analysing data is the Hindsight-Insight-Foresight approach which can be used by organisations regardless of their scale or size.
- Hindsight is descriptive analytics. It tells you what has happened. For instance, the number of sexual harassment complaints reported over a certain time period provides the organisation insights on trends (either up or down). This can be viewed at an organisational, division or functional level.
- Insight is where you synthesise and interrogate the data. This allows for identification of potential reasons for why sexual harassment occurs in your workplace and the existence of systemic risk factors (the drivers of sexual harassment). It can be as simple as looking at data together and identifying any relationship visually, or involve more complex analysis including ‘cause and effect’ analysis or a ‘correlation analysis’ (triangulation).
- Foresight is prescriptive analysis. This approach uses the drivers identified during the insight analysis and projects them into the future to understand which areas could see an increase in sexual harassment incidents.
This approach may be more likely to be used by larger organisations with established data and analytics expertise as it assumes foundational data analytics practices are in place, such as integrated systems.
Be aware of unintentional biases which can impact data analysis.
Affinity bias based on gender or race stereotypes may inform the analysis (i.e., we all tend to favour people who remind us of ourselves).
Confirmation bias, where we favour data which supports our existing beliefs.
Fundamental attribution error, which is caused by the belief that what people do reflects who they are.
Conservatism bias, which sees us favour information that we are familiar with (e.g., if a certain leader has a history of making sexist comments, then conservatism bias would define their character with that in mind)
Once data has been collected and analysed, the next step is to report and communicate the results. This step is about transparency with your workforce, external stakeholders and the community. It is linked with every other domain in the framework for preventing and responding to workplace sexual harassment – for example, it lays the foundation for building a culture of trust, respect, and safety, it demonstrates leadership commitment, it develops knowledge, it normalises discussions about sexual harassment, and it brings awareness to and trust in support and reporting mechanisms.
In Risk Management Process for Sexual Harassment, we explored good practice approaches to communicating sexual harassment information both within your organisation, as well as externally. This includes:
- board or subcommittee of the board to facilitate good governance and fulfil their oversight duties and safety obligations.
- executive management team or senior leaders to improve management capabilities support and drive effective prevention and response frameworks.
- people leaders to improve management skills and raise awareness of current management challenges.
- workforce as a whole to demonstrate board and leadership commitment, embed culture of trust, safety, and respect, show progress in addressing sexual harassment, and reinforce behavioural expectations and zero tolerance approach.
- external public disclosure mechanisms to build trust and to encourage stakeholders to hold organisations accountable (e.g., company reporting, WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation, investor transparency, public statements of commitment).
Operationalising insights involves transforming your evaluation and analysis into tangible actions to support and enhance your sexual harassment response and prevention strategy across all domains of the Prevention-Response framework.
There are various ways to do this that can include:
- develop a specific Action Plan or Change Management Plan to address issues identified through the measurement and analyses. Below are some examples of Action Plans:
- National Action Plan to Reduce Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession
- Strategic Framework and Action Plan for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response – University of Queensland
- Sexual Harassment Model Action Plan – Victorian Public Sector Commission
- Preventing Sexual Harassment at Work: Checklist and action plan for employers – UK Hospitality
- An alternative for smaller organisations would be to develop a Checklist of Actions that are aligned to insights gained from the analyses. You can download an example Preventing Workplace Sexual Harassment Checklist on this page that has been adapted from UK Hospitality resource above.
Sexual Harassment data collection and analysis should not be a one-off activity. It should be continual and ongoing. The frequency of data refresh would depend on the size as well as the governance and reporting systems in place within your organisation, including the frequency with which information is disclosed to the various stakeholders.
Data and indicators should be refined over time to measure the effectiveness of prevention and response mechanisms and respond to changes in data quality, collection processes, strategies and external developments in sexual harassment best practice over time.