Top 3 Questions: What You Need to Know About Collecting Data on Sexual Misconduct

Woman looking at graphs and data on a tablet

Last week, RALIANCE Executive Director Ebony Tucker wrote that data is central to driving decisions that prevent sexual misconduct. One of the core ways RALIANCE helps organizations collect this type of data is through its use of the sexual violence taxonomy, which was developed by one of our founding partners, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), and the Urban Institute.

The taxonomy is a first-of-its-kind tool that names, defines, and categorizes types of sexual misconduct that occur within a community or organization. We often receive inquiries about how we interpret and help companies understand the data this tool provides, and so we’re sharing our answers to some frequently asked questions below.

What does using the sexual misconduct taxonomy show?

Broadly speaking, the taxonomy is an instrument that reveals opportunities for progress. Specifically, the taxonomy provides a framework for data collection that allows individual reports of various types of sexual misconduct, such as those experienced by customers of an online platform, to be accurately categorized and counted in order to understand problems at scale.

The taxonomy draws from best practices in evidence-based research by categorizing reports based on the behaviors described by the person harmed. The misconduct categories were developed based on real-world behaviors and capture a broad range acts, from unwanted flirting and personal comments to sexual assault. Collecting this data enables experts to analyze the information available and make recommendations on how to solve core challenges by improving reporting systems, meeting the needs of survivors consistently and appropriately, and implementing consequences for offenders.

Why should my company count incidents of sexual assault and misconduct?

Counting incidents of sexual misconduct is an important piece of the puzzle for organizations looking to keep their businesses free of sexual misconduct and to foster an environment in which customers or users feel safe and respected. Data enables experts to help identify areas for improvement in your organization and to develop prevention programs that are effective, supportive, and inclusive.

Gathering data on sexual harassment and assault demonstrates to the public that your organization is proactively working to understand and solve problems. Sharing your findings publicly – alongside the actions you plan to take – is a way of holding yourself accountable before a third party does. Rather than being the subject of a news story about a company that values it’s bottom line at the expense of the safety of customers, taking action based on your data can help you earn an identity as a business striving to build a stronger, better culture – the type of place that consumers can feel safe engaging.

What’s the next step following a count of incidents?

Collecting data is only the first step in charting a path for progress. Once you have the data, it’s critical to interpret what those numbers mean.  An expert’s perspective is key to understanding the core challenges the data reveals and how to solve them. For example, a small count of sexual misconduct reports rarely means that there are few incidents; instead, it often indicates that people are afraid to report sexual harassment or assault or that other factors in a reporting system are creating barriers. These nuances make the interpretive process arguably the most complex. Experts can help ensure you develop a plan that will solve the central problems in a way that aligns with your organization’s goals.

RALIANCE provides consulting, assessment, and employee development services to help build more equitable workplace cultures and create environments free from sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse. We stand ready to support your organization’s goals – contact us today at [email protected] to get started.

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