Public Hearing of October 29, 2003 on Proposed Revised Employer Information Report (EEO-1)
Chairwoman Dominguez, Commissioners thank you for this opportunity to speak at this public meeting to provide recommendations on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC or Commission) proposed revision of the Employer Information Report (EEO-1).
I am Cornelia Gamlem, a long-time member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and President of GEMS Group, Ltd. a management-consulting firm that offers Human Resources solutions. An active member of SHRM, I have held a number of leadership positions with SHRM, including serving on its Board of Directors in 2000 and 2001 and from 1997 through 1999 I chaired its Workplace Diversity Committee. Additionally, I have authored articles and white papers for SHRM and other professional and industry publications, as well as presented at conferences sponsored by national organizations including SHRM and the American Bar Association on a variety of HR issues. Two books on Affirmative Action that I have drafted will be published this fall.
Today, I come before you on behalf of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) -- the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 175,000 individual members, the Society's mission is to serve the needs of HR professionals by providing the most essential and comprehensive resources available. As an influential voice, the Society's mission is also to advance the human resource profession to ensure that HR is recognized as an essential partner in developing and executing organizational strategy.
SHRM applauds the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or “Commission”) on its efforts to revise the three decades old EEO-1 form. The Commission’s objectives to rework the form in an effort to achieve better consistency with other federal agencies and to improve its relevance to today’s changing demographics should be pursued.
The proposed regulations present two significant changes to the EEO-1 form. The first is a modification to the race/ethnicity classifications and the second amends the list of job categories. I will discuss each in turn.
The proposal suggests changes not only to the EEO-1 form, but also to the way in which organizations gather information. Namely, employers are urged to gather race/ethnicity information through self-identification, which is a complete reversal from current procedures where visual observation is encouraged. SHRM agrees that self-identification would be the most effective and accurate to obtain race information, especially in instances where multiple races are at issue. But, we also caution that implied with self-identification is the need for a comprehensive, easy-to-understand, employee questionnaire.
The proposed regulations offer a recommended employee questionnaire, but SHRM believes it is problematic, because employees will be required to provide information that will not be reported to the government. For example, employees are asked two questions. The first question asks whether they are Latino/Hispanic and the second asks them to identify their race based on five possible choices. Employees are informed that if Hispanic/Latino ethnicity is chosen, race will not be reported. And if an employee selects more than one race, that employee’s specifically selected race will not be reported. Rather, the employee will be reported in the “Two or more Races” category.
SHRM members who, in their roles as HR professionals stand on the front line when it comes to workplace issues and employee complaints, can attest that employees will certainly be confused as to the intent of the questionnaire. Further, employers will have a difficult time explaining to employees why such data is being collected, if not reported. At the present time no plausible explanation exists, and SHRM argues that it would be better to collect only information that must also be reported.
As presently proposed, requiring or recommending employers engage in the costly process of gathering data that is not formally utilized is simply unnecessary and burdensome. While the data gathering mechanisms proposed by the Commission would provide a richer, more detailed database for employers, SHRM suggests the following:
The other significant change to EEO-1 reporting and collection requirements entails the format of the form itself. The proposed regulations increase the five current racial and ethnic categories to seven racial categories. The proposal separates the current designation "Asian or Pacific Islander" into two distinct categories and adds a category titled, "Two or more Races.” Additionally, the proposed regulations define Hispanic/Latino as an ethnicity and remove it from the racial categories entirely. Such modifications will require organizations to exert significant financial and human resources with insignificant improvement to the utility of the form or the information collected. SHRM believes that these changes to the form will provide little additional value from the current form and it will decrease in value as a tool to fight workplace discrimination.
The proposed form will not tell us the race of any Hispanic/Latino employee, or the specific racial makeup of any multi-racial individual. Statistical results will, therefore, forever be skewed as illustrated by the relationship of Hispanic/Latino employees to employees of other races. Thus, while the percentages of African Americans, Asians, Native Hawaiians, Native Americans and Whites will be lowered because their statistics can be lumped into a category of Two or more, the proportion of Hispanics/Latinos compared to the whole will be relatively increased, probably substantially. SHRM can posit no rationale for treating Hispanic/Latino employees differently from other races nor can SHRM fathom how inaccurate population numbers will assist the EEOC or OFCCP in the proper performance of its functions. SHRM is concerned that if such faulty data is relied on, government action to combat discrimination may be undertaken based on faulty premises.
SHRM does not mean to imply that the present form is without problems. It is true that the multi-racial demographic trend needs to be addressed, however, the proposed form will greatly diminish the utility of the EEO-1 form as a tool for the government due to its failure to not only accurately reflect the demographic of the workforce, but to skew data toward one racial/ethnic group and away from others. The current form does not address multi-racial issues, yet it does, at the very least, provide a tool that affords the government consistent and clear data.
As to the proposed EEO-1 form itself; SHRM feels that the use of a Hispanic/Latino ethnicity category, which trumps all other race categories and a Two or more Race category that potentially eliminates the reporting of the race that an employee primarily identifies with, does not result in any improvement to the form. To require employers to overhaul their HRIS, resurvey all of its employees, convert forms and retrain its HR staff for little or no gain is unreasonable, especially if consistency is the only legitimate motive. Therefore, SHRM recommends the following changes to the EEO-1 form:
When compiling statistics, the percentage of multi-race/ethnicity employees would therefore be based on the entire workforce. Thus, the EEO-1 form would provide not only an evenhanded and neutral reporting of an employer’s demographics based on primary identifiers, but a percentage of the workforce that considers themselves multi-racial.
The proposed EEO-1 form would expand the number of job categories from nine to eleven. This increase results from the conversion of the existing Officials and Managers category into three separate categories: Executive/Senior Level Officials and Managers; Mid-Level Officials and Manager; and Lower-Level Officials and Managers. SHRM supports this proposed change and believes that it will make the EEO-1 form a stronger government and management tool. Under the current form, Officials and Managers is too broad a category to provide useful data when examining an employer’s management employees. Changing this broad category into smaller, more distinct hierarchical categories will yield more sophisticated and refined data, providing a stronger scheme for data collecting and reporting.
The proposed regulations cross-classifying EEO-1 job categories to Census Occupational classification codes (Census Codes) produces discordant results. The proposed form separates Officials and Managers into three subsets based on level of responsibility, yet the Census codes assigned to the subsets are not based on level of responsibility, rather they are based on skills. Following this plan, the Mid-Level category would only consist of computer and information systems managers, financial managers, human resources managers, industrial productions managers, purchasing managers and transportation managers. Interestingly, the Census codes do not appear to differentiate among the level of manager and, therefore, employees ranging from a low-level information systems manager to the Executive VP of Information Technology at a Fortune 500 company could be erroneously included in the Mid-Level category.
On a personal note, SHRM would like to point out that cross-classifying Census codes with EEO-1 job categories would mean that human resource managers would never be placed in the Executive/Senior Level category. The code for HR managers is 013 and according to the proposed regulations, employees coded 013 must be placed in the Mid-Level category. It is inconceivable that upper level HR executives, including Senior VPs of HR, will be forever fixed in the Mid-Level category. HR professionals are often the key management employee needed to coordinate and implement business and governmental efforts to cure workplace discrimination - SHRM fails to understand how that can be treated as mid-level by the proposed EEO-1 form.
One last change to the job categories requires mentioning. The proposed regulations place the Service Workers category from the last or 9th position of the current form into the middle or 6th position of the proposed form and thus shifts the order of the remaining categories. It appears that the reordering of categories serves no significant purpose and SHRM believes that this is not a purposeful change. Affirmative action program job groups are often based on EEO-1 job categories and any change to the EEO-1 form, however slight, will impact the design and development of Affirmative Action Plans (AAPs), and database configuration within employers’ human resources information systems.
SHRM agrees with the proposed change of modifying the Official and Manager job category into three distinct hierarchical units. However, SHRM notes that the assignment of particular Census Occupational classification codes to particular job categories will cause confusion as well as contradictory results. Thus, SHRM recommends the following:
That the suggested Census Occupational classification codes be merely a recommendation but not a requirement for coding job categories. In addition, with respect to the reordering of job categories, there is no utility to such a change, only cost and potential confusion, and therefore recommend the order of job categories remain consistent with the present form.
The Commission estimates a one-time burden of 14 hours per employer (4 hours per establishment) and a cost of $220.00 per employer ($58 per establishment) to implement the proposed changes. SHRM disagrees.
Changing forms and procedures that have been in existence for more than thirty years will have a substantial impact on HR professionals and the organizations they represent. Organizations will have to undergo a redesign their data collection forms, systems and processes. Scanning programs will need to be modified. Internal procedures and processes used to interpret responses will require updating and modification. Existing data will have to be stored, eliminated or revised to reflect new descriptions and categories. These changes do not even take into account the staffing hours needed to train HR professionals and other managers on the new forms, systems and procedures.
Additionally, entire workforces will need to be resurveyed, as the data they currently hold will fail to fit within the proposed format. Additionally, the data currently gathered will not have been obtained through self-identification. Resurveying the entire workforce would be a labor-intensive, time consuming and burdensome task. Human resource professionals also anticipate resistance from employees who may resent once again providing intrusive information or be confused by the form’s description of the reporting of their race/ethnicity.
As mentioned earlier, EEO-1 job group categories often form the backbone of an employer’s AAP, and these proposed regulatory changes could cause an employer to reengineer, reevaluate and recode its entire AAP.
Costs will further rise, if employers are forced or choose to prepare employee questionnaires based on the proposed recommendations. Processes and forms needed to accurately gather and store 62 different combinations of race/ethnicity responses by employees such information will need to be created from scratch. Development of such systems is expensive. Further, a query of our members shows that many of the organizations that SHRM members represent are not willing to take steps to comply with the changes until the regulation is final and it is clear that employers will need significant time to properly implement the necessary changes to the EEO-1 form and all its supporting databases and systems. While no length of time is specified in the proposed regulations in which employers must be incompliance, SHRM recommends that the Commission provide organizations with, at a minimum, one year from the issuance of final regulations to meet the requirements of the final rule.
SHRM appreciates the opportunity to submit these comments and would be happy to provide you with additional information or clarification of our concerns.
This page was last modified on October 29, 2003.
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