Which Organizations Need to Track Applicant Data?

By Angela Adams, CEBS, SPHR, Director, Human Resource Services
Published February 2, 2016

We sometimes get calls on our HR Hotline asking about tracking applicants. Does every employer need to do so?

Any employer that is subject to the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (UGESP or the Guidelines) needs to track applicants and also make an effort to collect race and gender information on those applicants. The applicant information is then used to test for adverse impact against any race or gender by comparing who was hired to who applied, in a statistical analysis. The analysis is done for each job annually, although many employers aggregate the analysis by EEO-1 code.

Below, we will try to clear up some of the misconceptions around this issue by explaining which employers are required to track applicants and what they should do with the data.

Where can I find the UGESP?
You can find them here, although there are also a series of Q&As that accompany the UGESP. The Q&As expand on various issues and are easier to read and understand. The Q&As are found here.

What is the purpose of the UGESP?
The UGESP were enacted in 1978 to make sure that the selection process for any aspect of employment (hiring, promotion, termination) is free from discrimination or adverse impact against any race or gender.The Guidelines require that a covered employer validate any selection process that causes adverse impact. Included in the Guidelines are directions on how to determine whether adverse impact is occurring (through a series of statistical tests), and they also include instructions on how to validate a selection process if there is adverse impact. Selection processes can include physical requirements, pre-employment tests and even the basic requirements an employer has set for a job. Adverse impact for hiring should be determined for any race group that constitutes more than 2% of your recruiting area's workforce and for gender.

Which employers are covered the UGESP?  
The Guidelines apply to private and public employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, apprenticeship committees, licensing and certification boards and contractors or subcontractors, who are covered by one or both of the following:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 (hereinafter Title VII)
  • Executive Order 11246, as amended by Executive Orders 11375 and 12086 (hereinafter Executive Order 11246)

Title VII covers any employer with 15 or more employees for 20 weeks or more a calendar year. 

Executive Order 11246 applies to government contractors and subcontractors (“contractors”). These employers have some special responsibilities with regard to tracking applicants that go beyond the UGESP. We will have a separate article (Part 2) on issues relating to contractors and the Guidelines in a few weeks. If you’re a contractor, please watch for that in this publication.

Is there an exception for small employers who are not contractors?
If you have 100 or fewer employees, and are not a contractor, there are different requirements. Section 15(A)(1) of the Guidelines states that a small employer can comply by having:
(a) The number of people hired, promoted, and terminated for each job, by race and gender.
(b) The number of applicants for hire and promotion by race and gender; and
(c) The selection procedures used. 

You are not required to perform the adverse impact analysis. The above records should be maintained for each race that makes up more than two percent (2%) of the labor force in your recruiting area. If for some reason you believe you have adverse impact, you should maintain any information you have on the validity of the process. Again, the requirements are different if you are a contractor.

Do I have to ask the race and gender of every single person who applies?
No. The Guidelines require information on applicants, however you define one. The point at which someone qualifies as an applicant can vary from organization to organization. We recommend defining it and then being consistent, and we feel the safest way to define an applicant is to count anyone (and therefore solicit race/gender) who meets the basic qualifications you advertised for and who has not, since applying, removed themselves from consideration either by being no longer interested or not returning your calls. Some organizations count only those they actually interviewed. We believe this is too narrow. However, there is nothing that would prevent you from asking at any point in the process. Many applicant tracking systems, as a matter of course, ask for race and gender information up front. It is not illegal to do so. However, you only need to count those who qualify as an applicant in your statistical analysis.  Note that for contractors there are specific rules about who must be counted as an applicant which we will delve into next time.

How do I ask for race and gender?
There are many applicant tracking systems (software or web-based programs) available for purchase. Some HRISs also have an applicant tracking component as do some large job boards. You can also track applicants manually via an Excel spreadsheet or even via a handwritten log. Once you’ve determined someone qualifies as an applicant, you can send them an email or even “snail mail” asking them to let you know their race and gender. The important thing is that you make an attempt to collect the information. Contact us for a sample applicant log that you can use for tracking.

I read the Guidelines, but I do not have time to do the required analysis. Can you do it for me?
Yes, our staff of affirmative action professionals can help you with this, even if you’re not an affirmative action employer. 


Stay tuned for Part II of our article in a few weeks, where we go over the rules for contractors. In the meantime, if you have any questions, or would like us to complete your analysis, please feel free to call the HR Hotline at (800)448-4584 or email us at info@hrsource.org.


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