Abstract: Developing a Measure to Assess Workplace Bystander Intervention (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Developing a Measure to Assess Workplace Bystander Intervention

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Alhambra, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Sarah McMahon, PhD, Associate Professor, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Laura Johnson, PhD, Assistant Professor, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Background and purpose. Researchers have documented the barriers posed to women in the workplace through systematic biases and discrimination, including sexual harassment. In order to promote more equitable, inclusive, and safe work environments, prevention and intervention strategies are needed. One potentially useful tool is bystander intervention education, which equips those who witness harassment or discrimination to prevent, interrupt or disrupt the situation. Bystander intervention education has proliferated as a tool for addressing sexual and dating violence, though primarily on college campuses. Less is known about whether bystander intervention prevention models translate into workplaces. Other factors may need to be accounted for in bystander prevention models in workplace settings. For example, growing research suggests that complex power dynamics, social identities, workplace climate, and workplace policy can intersect and create environments in which bystanders are less likely to intervene, although the exact relationships between these factors are unknown. As such, the purpose of this study was to develop and pilot a tool that can be used to assess unique aspects of bystander intervention in the workplace (e.g., power dynamics). Methods. The survey instrument was developed by an interdisciplinary research team based on validated survey instruments, such as the ARC3 Faculty/Staff Campus Climate Survey and Workplace Incivility Scale on the Michigan State University Know More Campus Climate Survey. The team also conducted a targeted review of the literature and tailored the tool to capture complexities regarding social identity, power dynamics, and specifics regarding instances of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. The tool was piloted with a small group and will be tested with a larger sample to determine validity and reliability. Results. Feedback on the survey tool addressed its length and suggestions for how to address the impact of COVID-19 and remote workplaces. The survey required several iterations of changes to adequately address key issues of power related to witnessing harassment and discrimination in the workplace. A final survey tool programmed into Qualtrics will be shared, along with preliminary validity and reliability data. Conclusions and implications. Thus far, the research team has not found bystander intervention measurement tools that are adapted to the workplace and take into account the intersection of power and social identity with bystander behavior. The tool presented in this study can be used to help inform further replicable research in this area which can also lead to the development of effective prevention and intervention efforts.