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Questions on Job Applications about Race and Gender

In today’s diverse workforce there are many new laws in place that most, if not all, of us know very little about. For years, we all were led to believe that it was illegal to ask questions about race and gender and now the government is requiring companies to track the diversity of the applicant pool through anonymous questions at the end of an application. This seems a bit of an about face for a government that usually is as hard to move as a million year old dinosaur.

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Where does the info go?

The government has very strict guidelines for how this information is handled and the law states that the information is to be used solely for the purposes of analyzing the diversity of the applicant pool for specific companies, for regions, for industries and any other analytical need to ensure that EEO and AAP targets are being met.

So, whether you are filling out a form by hand or entering your information online, you can be 99% sure that the company who is receiving it will make every effort to keep your EEO answers separate from your actual application. If not, the government will penalize them heavily and any individual who was not hired could get as much as one year’s salary in a lawsuit for discrimination if the hiring decision was based on the information provided.

How is the information used?

In an effort to ensure that positions being offered by larger companies to the general public are being offered to and pursued by a diverse group of individuals, the government has put in place reporting requirements that mandate that these companies track this information through voluntary questionnaires.

Of course there are some margins for error built into a voluntary questionnaire. There are also margins for hedging or abuse in that if a company does not get enough female applicants or Asian applicants for a specific position, that company will decide on who they are going to hire without making an offer and keep the job requisition open until the correct number of minority applicants have been recorded.

How does answering these questions affect you?

You can be fairly sure that your information is not being combined with your application to make a decision about hiring. If you ever suspect that this is happening, you should contact the local office for the department of labor.

What it all boils down to is the government is now looking at you as a race or a gender instead of just a number and they are using your race and gender information to turn you back into a number to evaluate EEO and AAP compliance. So guess what?...You have come full circle and are just another number. So, go ahead and answer the questions. Go ahead and help those individuals who are considered minorities to get the same considerations as everyone else in the workforce.

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