The State Worker

New state worker census lets employees identify themselves as ‘multiple races’

The California Department of Human Resources is gathering demographic information from state workers for an expanded census of public employees. It features new fields that allow workers to identify themselves as “multi race” as well as questions about military service.
The California Department of Human Resources is gathering demographic information from state workers for an expanded census of public employees. It features new fields that allow workers to identify themselves as “multi race” as well as questions about military service. Associated Press file

A regular demographic checkup of California’s public workforce has a few more fields this year that may help shape how the state recruits veterans and minorities for jobs.

The state Department of Human Resources is conducting an annual online survey that asks state workers basic information about themselves, such as their ethnicity.

This time the survey includes additional questions about whether state employees are military veterans or whether they are disabled.

It also has new ethnicity fields, allowing workers to identify themselves as descendants of “multiple races.” In the past, the state has collected information on disabled workers through a separate survey.

Although much of the information in the survey likely appeared on job applications, the survey lets workers volunteer information they might have withheld or that reflects changes in their lives.

For instance, veterans who chose not to identify themselves when they applied for state jobs might want to volunteer that information now. That data could help the state develop veterans outreach programs in coming months, said Cal HR spokesman Joe DeAnda.

Also, the disability survey includes a number of conditions that employees might develop as they age, such as diminishing eyesight or hearing.

“It’s important that the state has a workforce that reflects California’s rich diversity, in all its forms. This survey will help us better track that diversity, allow us to more effectively communicate with our employees, and inform future (human resources) strategies,” DeAnda said.

In 2014, the workforce census showed the number of veterans on the state’s payroll declined even as the overall head count of state employees increased. The report also showed that the state was adding minority workers at a faster rate than it was hiring white employees.

A 1996 voter initiative bars the state from setting job preferences based on gender or race. Nonetheless, Cal HR has policies that aim to create a diverse workforce by broadly advertising job opportunities.

The department is asking workers to fill out the survey by May 31. It’s online at calhr.ca.gov/survey.

Adam Ashton: 916-321-1063, @Adam_Ashton. Sign up for state worker news alerts at sacbee.com/newsletters.

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