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I am a member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), a diversity society that promotes the advancement of Native Americans and other indigenous groups in STEM fields, among other things. I also consider the membership to be a record of my leadership skills, as I was an officer for my university AISES chapter, thus I would like to think that this is a good thing to include on my applications and/or resume.

Question: Will it negatively affect my application status if I include this information in my application (NOT in the optional EEO diversity information part)? I'm worried that if I include this information, my application may be disqualified by them possibly deducing my ethnic background. I'd appreciate any thoughts on the matter.

EDIT: I should clarify that I'm not worried they will disqualify me solely based on my ethnic background, but rather for some bureaucratic reason, as though finding out about something that is normally reported confidentially (through voluntary EEO fields) will affect my status.

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    I think you are overthinking it. – scaaahu Oct 23 '15 at 3:44
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    I've tagged this US because I have no clue what these "voluntary EEO fields" are. Are candidates actually supposed to list all the things about them that the interviewer cannot legally consider? – Lilienthal Oct 23 '15 at 10:27
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    @Lilienthal No. The purpose of those fields is to collect statistics so that an organisation (or maybe a government agency) can statistically evaluate their diversity efforts. Typically they might ask race or sexual orientation. The candidate doesn't need to put anything down unless they want to. The information normally goes to a different department, and is not revealed to the interviewer or others making decisions. – mhwombat Jul 24 '16 at 20:41
  • If you have networking contacts that you access due to membership in this organization, then put it in the application to them only. For general use, this is probably going to harm more than help. – HLGEM Jul 25 '16 at 21:01
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I really don't see any way this can hurt you short of outright bigotry... which will be balanced by those who think a diverse employee base is a good thing. And as you say, it gives you an opportunity to talk about leadership.

I strongly vote for including it.

(Note: Leadership is the key here. Just being a member doesn't count for as much; the thing that will impress is what you lead the group in doing, officially or not.)

  • Maybe it is just me. But wouldn't bigotry be classified as a negative thing? – Frank FYC Oct 23 '15 at 7:12
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    @bob Yes, it is. But the OP would not want to work in a company of bigots, so if they exclude him on that basis, nothing is lost. – Jan Doggen Oct 23 '15 at 9:52
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    Unconscious bias is a problem, besides outright bigotry, – user42272 Jul 24 '16 at 21:13
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Only include it if it will demonstrate skills which are relevant to the job for which you are applying.

For example, if the job requires strong financial skills, talk about how you collected members' fees, complied with audits etc. If you want to demonstrate leadership, give clear examples of how you tackled and solved a problem, what the upshot was, how many people benefited from your decision.

Don't necessarily talk about the beer-pong mixer you organised ;-)

One thing to note about diversity requirements - all the policies in the world won't protect you from an incompetent interviewer. At some point you'll sit in front of someone and your gender/race/disability/etc will become pretty obvious. Generally speaking, you don't want to work for the people who won't respect you.

There is a trend in some organisations to remove all protected characteristics from applications - your name becomes your initials, graduating dates are removed, that sort of thing. I don't know how a recruiter / HR department would deal with a fundamental part of your CV which references a protected characteristic like race.

If you are worried, I would recommend that you contact the HR department before sending in an application and checking whether it falls foul of any of their policies.

Best of luck!

  • I'm sure this son't be the first time such companies have received a resume which voluntarily states something they aren't supposed to consider, and I'm sure they have procedures in place to deal with it. I wouldn't hesitatte to make them do so; if they can't figure out how, that says something unflattering about their bureaucracy...But, ues, the ultimate answer here as in any such questionsius if you aren't sure, ask. – keshlam Oct 23 '15 at 12:55
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Sadly, the evidence shows you should hide your race.

Diversity statements often backfire, in large part because minority students "let their guard down" when applying to a company with a diverse statement. But of course the people reviewing the application still suffer from unconscious bias (or I guess are just overtly racist).

https://hbr.org/2016/03/the-unintended-consequences-of-diversity-statements

We found that roughly one-third of our sample had engaged in whitening, and two-thirds knew someone else who had. The main areas where this whitening occurred were with names (e.g., using a “white” first name such as Jenn instead of an Asian first name such as Jing) and descriptions of experience (e.g., dropping “Black” when listing membership in the “Black Engineering Students’ Association”). Among the motivations that interviewees mentioned for whitening, the main reason was to tone down their race in order to avoid discrimination. Importantly, interviewees indicated that they whitened less or not at all when applying to jobs for employers who explicitly state that they value diversity.

And

In our second study, we tested whether minorities do indeed whiten less when applying for jobs that include pro-diversity statements.

And the conclusion

We found that the whitened versions of both the black and Asian resumes were more than twice as likely to result in a callback as unwhitened resumes, even though the listed qualifications were identical — in line with other studies showing lower callback rates for minority applicants. Most importantly, the discrimination against unwhitened resumes was no smaller for purportedly pro-diversity employers than for employers that didn’t mention diversity in their job ad.

That being said, you may of course choose to include experiences that indicate your race. I personally would respect and even encourage that decision. But you wanted an evidence-based answer, and the evidence is not glamorous.

  • Excellent answer. This is sad but true in the workplace today. Which answer is best for the OP depends on his or her ability to sustain loss of opportunity due to bigotry, but at the very least this answer makes OP objectively more informed about the likely effect on their applications. – puzzlepiece87 Jul 25 '16 at 16:17

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