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Politics

1:00pm October 15, 2010

Voluntary EEOC Questionnaire Data: Let’s Take A Look

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is known for fighting the good fight on behalf of those discriminated against in the workplace.  Though the Commission investigates and, in some instances, files suit against employers who violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, they are also charged with the task of evaluating possible work conditions that could explain the troubling rates of unemployment among certain populations.

According to Data.Gov:

As part of its mandate under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires periodic reports from public and private employers, and unions and labor organizations which indicate the composition of their work forces by sex and by race/ethnic category.

In keeping with the Civil Rights Act, job applicant data collection, also known as the “Voluntary EEOC Questionnaire,” is used to analyze trends of minority employment and maintain compliance with “recordkeeping requirements of the nondiscrimination laws and rules.”  An example of its applied use might be, “of all applications received for work in managerial positions, 39% were minority candidates, but “company x” only hired 3% minority candidates.”

Many employers have gone to the internet for the purpose of vetting potential hires through human resources web forms and applications.  At the last step of the web form or application, the employer sincerely asks the job applicant to voluntarily fill out an EEOC questionnaire and states that the data is confidential and will “not be made available to the hiring manager.”  As expected, the questions are related to race, gender, disability, military service and other such criteria.  An important question is whether the employer asked for the race of the applicant on the employer’s application.

No one should have any problem stating their race, right?  Some applicants are proud to do so.  But just maybe, some people have reservations about such questions.  Questions of race are suspect on job application forms.  Why should that be important?  It potentially could be perceived by the applicant that “race” is an important qualifier to the employer.   An applicant may out right refuse to fill out the form because it is voluntary. They may choose the race option statistically most likely to be hired, or pick the option which states “I do not wish to disclose.”  Further, if the applicant does not fill out the questionnaire, there is a chance that the hiring manager could take the applicant’s refusal into consideration when making the final decision for hiring.

According to the EEOC, self identifying data that is voluntarily given by the job applicant does not go to the hiring manager.  It is instead taken by the potential employer for submission to the EEOC.  Is that a reasonable expectation?  Once an applicant gives racial identifying information the employer has it for his or her use.

As the EEOC analyzes collected data, the question is whether skipped or false responses skew the data.

The EEOC only analyzes the data at high levels.  For example the data would be examined to determine employment practices of companies holding government contracts. The purpose would be to determine whether such contractors are in compliance with federal standards prohibiting employment discrimination.

Any individual  should be able to go to the EEOC website or Data.gov and view “Voluntary EEOC Questionnaire” data.  Sadly, this information is not available to the public.  The only statistics available are those that show how many women and minorities work in the public and private sectors.

In order to close the social and economic gaps such data is necessary.

It would be beneficial for the public to know the applicants’ ethnicity in order to compare the number hired with those who were not. For example, Industry #1 received 60% minority applications in the year 2010.  Of those 60% only 10% of the minority applicant pool was hired.

Of course the business community would be against any aspect of such an initiative, as was the case when the EEOC was established.  More accountability is needed, not less.  Minority unemployment is double the rate of whites; in some areas like Washington, D.C. for example, African American unemployment alone is at 50 percent.  How can the ills in our employment system be corrected without having data necessary to make an informed assessment?



About the Author

Britton Loftin
Britton Loftin is a Political Strategist and Director of a Legislative & Government Affairs firm.




 
 

 
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6 Comments


  1. Jeff Dahlberg

    @ Britton, You are very correct in saying that the EEOC form only helps to compile overall statistical data. It actally harms the applicants by forcing the employer to feel obligated to push for this information. This either scares the applicant into answering out of fear or not answering out of fear. either way the employer has the information to use for discrimination purposes. The pipe dream that one of the hiring managers will not be the HR Manager is unrealistic. In almost everycase the HR Manager or a recruiter directly overseen by the HR Manager is the one making the inital decision to hire. I work with many HR Manager and can tell you that while they are the ones controlling the EEOC requirements they are also the most likely to discriminate and should the person be of color the HR Manager (even if of color themself) if far less likely to send that applicant to the first round of interviewing. This is because they are guessing what the hiring manager is looking for and in most cases they just assume the white person is who the hiring manager will hire. Sad fact is that they hiring manager in most cases could care less as long as they get the best person.


  2. Jeff Dahlberg

    Continued from previous post

    The Federal Governent should stop asking questinos concerning discrimination until after the first round of (in- person) interviews is completed. The would actally allow the government to manager a smaller number of applicants to act in a prevenitive mannor instead of only looking at the big picture (which does not single out who is doing the discrimination but that there is a problem in general). This would be a pro-active solution instead of a reaction to a filed complaint. How many people never file because they dont even know the process or assue the information they already gave was designed to take care of the problem.


  3. Jam

    Can we get some action on this false sense of protection.


  4. Angela

    Summer of 2011 i was hired at a research company in ann arbor michigan. I’m an african america woman who is also a vetetan. When i started as a tech was asked about my background and how i was able to get a job there. This was also a govt contract facility. One obvious tea party member made my life a living hell at work. The irony of this thing is that i was qualified but resented for being there but they did not have 1 black woman there in a technical position yet it was funded by the government. You can’t have it both ways. If we are to work hard and pull oneself up by the bootstrings, why sabotage and resent the efforts to do so. I was not hired into an almost all white lithium ion research lab. Go figure.
    Angie Broadus


  5. [...] questionnaire on an application, does it help or hurt a job seeker from getting hired. According to Politic365, in keeping with the Civil Rights Act, job applicant data collection, also known as the [...]



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