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* Regulations, proposals, and other documents referenced on this page can be found on our Documents page.


Race and Ethnicity Categories

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has revised the race and ethnicity categories that will be used for the EEO-1 survey. These changes do not go into effect until the 2007 EEO-1 survey. Until these revisions, EEOC and OFCCP used the following five race categories:

  • White
  • Black
  • Hispanic
  • Native American
  • Asian/Pacific Islander/Indian subcontinent

For the 2007 EEO-1 survey, companies are asked to indicate if employees show their ethnicity as Hispanic or non-Hispanic. For employees who show their ethnicity as Hispanic, companies are not required to show any race information. However, companies must use the following race categories for persons who are not Hispanic:

  • White
  • Black
  • Native American
  • Asian/Indian subcontinent
  • Pacific Islander
  • Two or more races

Note that "Pacific Islander" has been separated from Asian/Indian subcontinent and that there is a new category for "two or more races."

EEOC has suggested that in order to complete future EEO-1 surveys, companies will need to re-survey their workforce with a form that has these new categories. EEOC has indicated that companies should complete this re-survey of the workforce in time for completion of the 2008 EEO-1 survey. The 2007 EEO-1 survey will incorporate the new race and ethnicity categories, but employers do not need to show any employees in the new categories "Pacific Islander" and "two or more races" for the 2007 EEO-1 survey. The earliest that employers would be required to show employees in these new categories would be for the 2008 EEO-1 survey.

Unfortunately, there is a problem: OFCCP has not yet conformed the race categories it uses to EEOC's revised race and ethnicity categories. Thus, for preparing the various statistical analyses that go into an affirmative action plan, companies still need to report on employees using the five traditional race categories.

Most of the inconsistencies between OFCCP's race categories and EEOC's race/ethnicity categories are easily resolved. For example, "Hispanic" is an ethnicity for EEOC, but it is a race for OFCCP. "Pacific Islanders" fall under their own category for EEOC, but are grouped with Asians and persons from the Indian subcontinent for OFCCP.

The one category that is very problematic is "two or more races." There is no OFCCP category of this kind. While OFCCP may ultimately conform its regulations to the EEOC categories, there is currently no way to determine what to do with an employee who checks a box labeled "two or more races." The employee is clearly a minority, but it is impossible to tell which minority category the person falls into.

For these reasons, we are recommending two things.

FIRST, we are recommending that companies wait until the beginning of 2008 at the earliest before re-surveying the workforce. By that time, OFCCP may have taken action to conform its regulations to the EEOC definitions. We may also have additional instructions from EEOC by that time on whether companies are required to use the new race and ethnicity categories or simply requested to use these new categories.

SECOND, for companies that intend to change their survey forms in the near future, we are recommending that companies avoid using survey forms that have a checkbox labeled "two or more races." Instead, non-Hispanics should be allowed to check one or more of the race categories.

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