The Role of Data Transparency in Combatting Workplace Harassment

This standard revolves around the collecting and handling of data concerning sexual harassment in an organisation or business.

Collecting relevant and actionable data is a key element to enable organisations and businesses to combat harassment. Having such data available should reveal the nature and scope of problems in the particular organisation.

When organisations commit to systematic data collection, they take the first concrete step in a proactive strategy to counter unlawful behaviour in their workplace. Data collection provides confirmation and reassurance to employees and customers that the challenge of addressing sexual harassment is being treated with seriousness and assurance that a process to tackle it is being implemented.

The AHRC has set out how organisations should model data collection and the subsequent stages of carrying out the positive duty.


There are three aspects to an organisation’s handling of data related to sexual harassment.: monitoring, evaluation, and transparency.

The guidelines emphasize that businesses and organisations should not rely only on reports of unlawful conduct as this is bound to present an inaccurate picture as there is always under-reporting. Data should be collected from multiple sources, preferably by experienced professionals who can extract valuable insights while maintaining anonymity and privacy throughout the process.

Sources could include actual victims, bystanders, managers, customers, and industry-wide data.

The collected data should include both quantitative and qualitative aspects (characteristics, feelings, thoughts) to provide a comprehensive picture of the state of sexual harassment in the organization.

Data should be assessed in order to determine the effectiveness of implemented measures. The data should inform: the identification of risks; the effectiveness of existing measures implemented to eliminate unlawful conduct; the improvement of processes; the evaluation of workplace culture and the role of leadership in creating inclusive and respectful workplaces.


Organisations are bound to disclose de-identified or aggregated data about sexual harassment to leaders, managers, workers, and stakeholders. Making the data available and accessible will help leaders and managers understand where the problems lie and enable them to formulate appropriate strategies. For workers, seeing the data will help install trust in the organisations approach to handling these matters.

According to the AHRC, transparency involves being:

  • Open about the risk of unlawful conduct
  • Visible in actions taken to prevent and respond to unlawful conduct
  • Honest about the circumstances and outcomes of reports
  • Fair in ensuring that the drive for transparency does not interfere with natural justice when investigations are underway
  • Supportive in that transparency should not undermine privacy or the health and well-being of people involved in any instance of sexual harassment.



Practical guidelines

to equip leaders and organisations with the tools they need to meet the positive duty:


Diverse Data Sources

Create reporting from various channels, including victims, bystanders, managers, customers, and industry-wide data.


Professional Handling

Ensure experienced professionals conduct data collection to extract valuable insights while maintaining anonymity and privacy.


Comprehensive Data

Gather both quantitative and qualitative data to obtain a holistic understanding of the state of sexual harassment within the organisation.


Continuous Evaluation

Regularly assess collected data to gauge the effectiveness of implemented measures, identify risks, and improve existing processes.


Transparent Reporting

Implement a transparent reporting system, disclosing de-identified or aggregated data to leaders, managers, workers, and stakeholders.


Promote Trust

Demonstrate openness, visibility, and fairness in addressing sexual harassment, fostering trust among workers and stakeholders.


By following these practical recommendations, your organisation can cultivate a more respectful and inclusive work environment while effectively addressing issues related to sexual harassment.