UO expands the demographic info employees can submit

Improvements and updates to DuckWeb, the University of Oregon’s online information system, now allows employees to voluntarily provide additional demographic information in support of the UO’s commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity.

Information about employees’ veteran status, disability, ethnicity and race has always been and will continue to be a part of the UO’s voluntary collection of employee demographic data.

“It may seem surprising that an employer would collect this kind of information,” said Mark Schmelz, chief human resources officer and associate vice president. “But these are key characteristics that help inform the university’s understanding of its diversity.” 

Understanding the characteristics of its employees bolsters the university’s ability to assess how it is doing in building a diverse workforce and maintaining a welcoming environment for all, he said.

“The more we know about who we employ the better informed we can be in achieving our diversity recruitment and retention goals and our efforts to support the UO community,” Schmelz said.

A cross-disciplinary team led by Yvette Alex-Assensoh, vice president for equity and inclusion, is also focused on data collection in its efforts to support the UO’s institutional diversity, equity and inclusion goals and meet expectations of the UO Board of Trustees.

“Having accurate and up-to-date demographic data about the current UO community is an important first step to understanding where we are in meeting institutional inclusion and equity goals,” Alex-Assensoh said. “More importantly, demographic data are important information in informing campuswide policies, processes and interventions necessary to ensure that everyone on our campus is thriving.”

She added that incorporating updated and expanded demographic data into the decision-making process will allow the UO to keep pace with its peers, who are already collecting and utilizing data in ethical and transformative ways.

The Office of the Provost recently launched an interactive employee demographic dashboard to better understand the university’s institutional makeup and how it changes over time. Expanding employee demographic information further advances the effort.

Employees can now voluntarily provide their gender identity and sexual orientation by completing a new form in DuckWeb. While logged in, employees can provide, update or change other demographic information as well as review their address and emergency contact information.

Instructions and additional information are available on the HR website. In the future, employees and students also will be able to voluntarily report their preferred pronouns.

The university collects demographic and biographical information on a voluntary basis in compliance with federal and state laws and requirements mandated by the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission. The information is used for aggregate reporting purposes within the university and to meet compliance requirements. Individual information is not shared with UO departments, managers or supervisors, and it is not used in employment decisions.

The university is committed to equal access to programs, facilities, employment and admission for all its employees, students and campus community members. It is the policy of the university to maintain an environment free of discrimination against any person because of their real or perceived “protected characteristic,” which includes race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability and veteran status, among others.

University employees are protected by federal and state laws and university policies. The Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance is responsible for investigating and responding to incidents of prohibited discrimination and harassment, including those based on gender, race, age or any other protected class. The office’s website provides important information about reporting processes and obligations