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The Importance of Self-Reported Data in Recruiting

Collecting diversity data is nothing new, and it's been part of proven recruiting best practices for a long time—especially since the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) established survey requirements for job applications to ensure companies aren’t discriminating against protected groups in the workplace. While this information has been useful in terms of helping businesses remain compliant with government regulations, when it comes to meeting DEIB goals, the data collected on job applications isn't enough. 

One issue is that many applicants may not include information about things like their race or disability status because it’s uncomfortable. Since reporting is voluntary, employers may not even know the backgrounds of people applying for positions. 

Another problem is that EEOC-required information doesn't include some pertinent DEIB data points, and it doesn’t account for the fact that people have multiple identities—meaning the data collected doesn’t tell the whole story about candidates. For example, if you want information on how many black people from LGBTQIA+ communities you’re hiring, you'll never know unless you ask candidates to identify themselves. 

Additionally, EEOC information is collected during the application process, so it’s not reflective of people already working in an organization. Since providing diversity data is key to creating a strong employer brand, not having the right information can hurt your recruitment efforts.

In order to meet the goals in your diversity recruitment plan, it's necessary to go above and beyond EEOC information to get a true picture of who you're hiring. The solution is encouraging candidates to provide self-reported data, which allows them to tell you exactly who they are, rather than you making assumptions about them. This gives you a more robust picture of the people in your hiring funnel, as well as your staff, so you understand the intersectionality of their identities.

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The Benefits of Self-Reported Data

If you’re not asking candidates for self-reported data about their identities, the following are some reasons to start:

1. Meeting Diversity Recruitment Goals

Although information required by the EEOC can to some degree help with diversity recruitment, you still need more information to really ensure that people from underserved backgrounds are represented in your company. Since it's best not to make assumptions about people because you may be wrong, asking candidates to identify themselves is the best way to get the data you need to reach diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.

2. Providing Necessary Accommodations

Some disabilities are obvious, but some people may need accommodations for conditions you cannot see. For example, candidates or employees may be neurodivergent, and you have no way of providing the accommodations these workers need unless they tell you about their medical condition. As a result, getting self-reported data is important for making the workplace more inclusive for this talent.

3. Creating Benefits for Employees From Diverse Backgrounds

The needs of women are much different than the needs of men. The needs of black women are much different from the needs of white women. The needs of those in LGBTQIA+ communities are different from those who do not have these identities. By having candidates and employees provide self-reported data, you're better able to offer benefits and create programs that meet the specific needs of different groups of workers. Without self-reporting, you may not be able to provide the right benefits, which can cause retention problems later on.

4. Shaping the Future

Adopting a system for self-reported data is not just about helping you get employees in the near future, or in the months to come. It’s also about building strong, diverse teams that are going to lead your company in the future.

Our Co-CEO, Tariq Meyers, describes the importance of it this way: “Our future leaders are more than just their resumes. Their life experiences, their worldviews, their triumphs, and their struggles make them great. For many, the lens through which they view the world and the very lens that they will bring to the workplace could have started many years before they heard their first ‘yes’ from their first job. It may well have been a single interaction with law enforcement they experienced growing up or the resilience they learned working a full-time job to fund their education as a first-generation college graduate.”

Although collecting self-reported data during the hiring process, and even after people are hired, may not be something you’re used to, it can become a recruiting best practice that will help with your DEIB goals. This is the best way to get the most accurate information about people in your workforce and candidate pool, so making the effort to ask can help you reap many rewards.

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