The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Public Hearing of October 29, 2003 on Proposed Revised Employer Information Report (EEO-1)

Remarks of Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.,
President and Founder Rainbow/Push Coalition, Inc.

The Rainbow/Push Coalition is a civil and human rights organization with approximately 300,000 members throughout the united states and abroad. Its mission is to promote a level playing field for achieving employment equity and parity and equal rights under law. The rainbow/push coalition is especially interested in equal enforcement of laws protecting equal employment opportunity.

The Rainbow/Push Coalition thanks the commission for holding this hearing on proposed changes to the EEO-1. This action demonstrates the acknowledgment by EEOC to have a review and consensus of all affected parties. These parties include employees and job applicants who may experience discrimination, the federal contractor community, other federal agencies like the office of federal contract compliance programs, the OFCCP, and of course the civil rights community. The rainbow/push coalition supports the need for an EEO-1 form that truly gives an accurate and complete snapshot of the workforce of American employees. The organization's commitment is equally strong for a reporting document that lays a proper foundation for companies to effectively create, manage and monitor their affirmative action plans. To some extent the new form assists with this endeavor. However, uncertainty in its applicability to affirmative action makes it unacceptable and premature for enactment in its current state.

The Rainbow/Push Coalition is concerned about the question of representation and advancement for people of color. While the rainbow/push coalition acknowledges and celebrates the increasing size and influence of the Latino population in America, it is important that the EEOC continue to acknowledge the root causes of color and race discrimination in the united states today. Under the new proposed form, those of African and Latino descent will have no choice on how they want to be "protected". Under the current form the employee chooses one designation, Latino (Hispanic) or black.. There is no "trumping" of one race or another. Under the new form, if an employee opts for the Latino designation, they will be considered Latino only, even if they designate another race or ethnicity.

Ordinarily, an employee elects an ethnic or racial classification based upon identity, affinity or the ethnic/racial group that it is felt protection against discrimination is most needed. Under the proposed form, the designation of Latino or Hispanic, eliminates the reporting of any and all other racial designations for that employee, regardless of any other racial or ethnic designation that the employee might deem to need protection.

Therein lies the problem with the rationale for this new form. While there are important and valid reasons for multi-racial classifications and the gathering of that information for the census, those reasons do not necessarily translate to the need for the racial and ethnic identifications in terms of employment. Workplace discrimination based on race cannot be effectively addressed by designations based in the first instance on ethnicity or culture.

The unfortunate legacy of race in America is that it remains the most visible badge of difference. While it is important for multi-cultural America to celebrate the rainbow, individual Americans in the workplace are more likely to suffer discrimination due to race than to culture or ethnicity. Numerous studies show that racial stereotypes cling to persons of African descent more than to other ethnic groups. Persons of mixed heritage are more likely to face discrimination because of the african component. Under the proposed form, an employee who marks two or more categories not latino or hispanic, is counted in the new category two races or more. For those contractors doing affirmative action plans required by executive order 11246, it is uncertain how this designation helps to further the cause of equal employment opportunity or affirmative action. As a result, many contractors will have to suffer the costs of new information technology systems, time resurveying employees, new HR processes, hours upon hours of training and communication - without knowing how to incorporate these changes into an affirmative action plan or knowing how the new data benefit their equal employment goals or how they improve equal employment opportunity. These contractors will spend millions to convert to a process that adds little value to their business.

The Rainbow/Push Coalition holds the view that the The affirmative action process requires the creation of an estimated availability. The estimated availability is created by looking internally into the employer's workforce and externally to the marketplace for women and people of color who possess the qualifications for the jobs being evaluated. Since the composition of two races or more is unknown, it is impossible for this factor to be included in any meaningful way in the analysis to create the estimated availability or placement goals for people of color.

While the statutes require the creation of only "minority goals" in the aggregate, most major contractors create the goals by looking at the individual groups to get the most accurate goal. They also create this goal in this manner so there is some assurance that all groups have equitable and fair access to employment opportunities (i.e., not just one ethnic group). Two races or more is costly for employers to determine, but does nothing to enhance or further the affirmative action process, and may actually tend to weaken equal employment efforts.

To move forward on this form without understanding the potential ramifications is premature and to date, the process has not afforded the strategic review typically required of any major business practice. The Rainbow/Push Coalition, therefore, respectfully requests that the EEOC rescind this form and further consult with all parties affected to determine a reporting mechanism that truly meets the mission of the EEO-1 report.

Further, no EEO-1 reporting structure should be approved or implemented until it is determined how it will affect the affirmative action process. This means that a new EEO-1 should not be issued until the OFCCP, the federal contractor community and the civil rights community have determined how employees will be notified about the changes and how affirmative action plans will be constructed under the new format.

The Rainbow/Push Coalition supports the EEOC's three-tiered approach to the officials and managers category of the form. This modification will clearly show the need for corporations to more closely monitor their promotion and selection processes. As we all know from the experience of major corporations nationwide, a lack of attention to the upward mobility of women and people of color will result in lack of diverse representation.

Again thank you for this opportunity to express the views of an organization that strongly believes in the power of the EEOC.

This page was last modified on October 28, 2003.

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