Monitoring Harassment in Organizations

Rachel Heath (University of Washington - Seattle)

December 7, 2023, 11:00–12:30

Room Auditorium 4

Behavior, Institutions, and Development Seminar


We evaluate secure survey methods designed for the ongoing monitoring of harassment in organizations. To do so, we partner with a large Bangladeshi garment manufacturer and experiment with different designs of phone-based worker surveys. “Hard” garbling (HG) responses to sensitive questions, i.e., automatically recording a random subset as complaints, increases reporting of physical harassment by 290%, sexual harassment by 271%, and threatening behavior by 45%, from reporting rates of 1.5%, 1.8%, and 9.9%, respectively, under the status quo of direct elicitation. Rapport-building and removing team identifiers from responses do not significantly increase reporting. We show that garbled reports can be used to consistently estimate policy-relevant statistics of harassment, including: How prevalent is it? What share of managers is responsible for the misbehavior? and, How isolated are its victims? In our data, harassment is widespread, the problem is not restricted to a minority of managers, and victims are often isolated within teams.