There can be many reasons why an organization collects, stores or reports data which pertains to ethnicity, race or language. A business, organization or institution may simply desire to have a full understanding of the demographics they are dealing with. They may also want to measure any disparities that are found and address them. There are some guidelines as to how ethnic data can be used.

Uses of Ethnic Data that are Permitted

When a company or organization has a reason to collect ethnic data there are some ways they are allowed to use it. For instance, race, language and ethnic data can be used for:

  • Assessing and addressing disparities
  • Designing intervention programs
  • Designing outreach materials and campaigns
  • Informing health providers about language needs

Uses of Ethnic Data that are Not Permitted

Companies and organizations cannot use ethnicity, race or language data for:

  • Underwriting, setting rates, or determining benefits
  • Sharing with unauthorized users

Why is it important to collect ethnic information?

Health care providers usually collect a lot of information when a patient registers for services. Businesses often request this information when an individual is applying for a position. When this information is used appropriately it can help reduce disparities. It can also be used to help break down language barriers so that there is not a struggle to communicate. However, ethnic information cannot be collected for the purpose of discrimination such as not giving a position or job to someone of a certain ethnicity.

To Show Diversity

A company has to be able to show they do not discriminate against particular races or people groups. In order to do this they have to survey their present employees periodically. In these cases they can ask about ethnicity without violating the privacy of their employees as long as the person is already employed by the company and they are aware the information is requested on a voluntary basis.