Cover: Survey for Assessing Racial/Ethnic Harassment and Discrimination in the U.S. Military

Survey for Assessing Racial/Ethnic Harassment and Discrimination in the U.S. Military

Published Oct 18, 2021

by Miriam Matthews, Coreen Farris, Terry L. Schell, Kristie L. Gore


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Research Question

  1. How can DoD survey its personnel to assess what racial and ethnic harassment and discrimination service members may experience, who perpetrates these behaviors, in what circumstances, and with what response?

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) aims to estimate the percentage of service members who experienced racial or ethnic harassment or discrimination in the past year. The authors of this report provide information on a survey instrument that RAND Corporation researchers designed to help DoD obtain those estimates. The report describes the instrument-development process, the instrument itself, and recommendations to support its use.

Key Findings

  • The new survey instrument aligns with the redeveloped measure of sexual harassment and gender discrimination featured in the Workplace and Gender Relations surveys that DoD administers.
  • The new instrument includes three sections: (1) assessment of the occurrence of racial/ethnic harassment within the past year; (2) assessment of the occurrence of discrimination within the past year; and (3) among those who experienced these offenses, assessment of the event, the offender, and the response system.


  • Report the results in a way that will be most informative to Congress, DoD, and each service.
  • Widely disseminate the results of each survey wave in a timely manner.
  • Use the results to develop and improve efforts to prevent harassment and discrimination in the U.S. armed forces.
  • Drawing from survey results, revise the survey and survey methods as necessary.

This research was sponsored by the Defense Manpower Data Center and the former Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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