As those companies who are required to submit an EEO-1 form know, the extended deadline for the annual submission this year (2015) is coming up soon – October 30 (Normally it’s September 30 each year). Generally speaking, covered employers must report on the form, by establishment/company totals and job group (e.g. first level officials and managers, professionals, administrative support employees, etc.), the number of employees by sex and race or ethnic category. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires most private employers with 100 or more employees to submit the EEO-1 form, while the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs requires most government contractors with 50 or more employees and $50,000 or more in federal contracts to submit this form.

Originally on the EEO-1 form, multi-racial employees had to be designated a single racial or ethnic category. For example, an individual who had a Black father and a White mother would have to be identified as solely White or solely Black. In 2005, however, the EEO-1 form was revised to include new racial and ethnic categories, including “Two or More Races.” This change was entirely appropriate in our increasingly multi-racial society, and permitted a more accurate reflection of the racial makeup of a company’s workplace.

But what about sex? There has been a lot of recent media attention to gender identity issues (in case you’ve been living in a cave) – and the choice of gender identity is apparently far broader than I could have possible imagined. As Slate reported, in July, Facebook began allowing its users to self-identify as other than just “male” or “female.” In fact, Slate counted 56 options!!! (Whaaaaat?!!!  Naïve me.) Many of these terms were ones that I had never heard of before – agender/neutrois, gender questioning, intersex, non-binary, pangender, two-spirit….

A colleague had a client who wanted to know how to report on the EEO-1 form those employees who self-identify as “transgender” or “other.” This led me to question what to do if an employee refused to self-identify as to sex at all. I was curious as to what the official answer for this is. So I called the OFCCP (1-800-397-6251) and the EEOC (1-877-392-4647) help lines. The OFCCP confirmed, as I thought, that for transgendered individuals, they should be reported as the sex that they choose to identify with. And as to those who refuse to self-identify as to a sex, the OFCCP said that the employer can use visual identification to designate these employees as either male or female for purposes of completing the EEO-1 form (similar to employees who choose not to self-identify as to race/ethnicity). The OFCCP representative also informed me that there is no current conversation within the agency to change the standard “male”/”female” designations on the EEO-1 form.

And what about the EEOC? Well, I’d like to know that as well. I left several messages on the help line and sent an email to the specified email address for assistance. On another attempt, I was on hold for over 40 minutes before I finally had to hang up to go to a meeting. Over two weeks later, I still have had no response. But I would anticipate that their approach would be the same as the OFCCP’s.

(And for those of you who need actual help in filling out your EEO-1 form, I say “Good luck!”).