Collecting Demographic Data for the Seasonal Casting Practices Survey

Some of Equity’s collective bargaining agreement require employers to submit a Seasonal Casting Practices Survey annually. This allows both parties to the agreement to see how diversely an employer is hiring across a season. This page provides introductory information about why employers should adopt the best practice of collecting demographic data of applicants and employee and how to do so effectively.

Applicant Demographic Surveys, Generally

When Equity asks employers to track and report the demographics of their applicants as well as the Equity members whom they hire, we are in fact asking them to adopt the best practice recommended by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures. Many of our employers – those who employ 100 or more persons and those who receive public funding – are legally required to collect that information.

Regardless of whether the practice is required by law or collective bargaining agreement (CBA), doing so strongly suggests that an employer is free from unlawfully discriminatory hiring practices. With a little 21st century technology, it is very easy to collect the information from both applicants and employees without the awkwardness of asking directly. 

Why Collect Demographic Data

Federal law prohibits hiring discrimination in two forms. The first is “disparate treatment,” meaning the intentional discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin or disability. The second is “disparate impact,” meaning that seemingly neutral job selection procedures remove candidates of a particular race, color, religion, sex, national origin or disability. An employer is liable for disparate impact whether they intend the impact or not. If an employer intends to use the data to avoid hiring practices that create disparate impacts, and if providing the information is optional and voluntary to the candidate, then the employer can legitimately collect demographic data from candidates at the point of application, interview, or audition.  

The Society of Human Resource Managers has a great article on collecting demographic data and why an employer should do so

How to Collect Demographic Data

Guessing candidates’ identities is not an effective strategy for tracking demographic information. Instead, employers can collect that data with a simple webform. Please see this example. Keep in mind that this is an example Equity provides as a courtesy. The employer is responsible for their own audition processes and must do their own diligence to design forms and disclaimers that are best for their organization.  

Essential elements for demographic data webforms are: 

  • Reason for the data collection 
  • Data security notice  
    • In compliance with the employer’s duty imposed by data security law, the data will remain confidential and will not be used for any purpose other than described on the form  
    • The data will not be accessible by staff who will interview and audition candidates 
    • The data will have no bearing on the candidates' applications or auditions 
  • Questions about all demographic categories in the Casting Practices Survey 
  • Options to decline to answer each demographic question 

As candidates check in at auditions, an employer can have a tablet they can use to complete the survey. It’s also reasonable to email the form to candidates for them to complete on their own devices. The forms can either ask for names or be anonymous. If an employer has included names in the original audition form, they can get the demographic info for their final cast from that data source. If an employer has collected the information anonymously at auditions, they can use a similar form to collect the data from the cast only. 

Remember that Equity members have the right to refuse to complete forms when they apply, interview or audition. A member's refusal may have no bearing on whether they are considered for the role.  

Digital audition forms can be useful for far more than just completing your Casting Practices Survey. They are a great opportunity to collect other information to support your organization like COVID-19 symptoms screenings, intimacy boundaries and where the applicant learned about the job opportunity.