[11/30/16] The Environmental Protection Agency is entering its second phase of a data project to collect information on the sexual orientation of its employees.
The Sexual Orientation Gender Identity (SOGI) pilot program allows EPA employees to voluntarily disclose their gender identity and sexual orientation, information that the agency says is “crucial” to an “inclusive” workplace.
After first focusing on employees in Midwestern states, the EPA is now opening up the database to all employees so they can answer questions about their sexual preferences and gender, specifying whether they are “male, female, a blend of both, or neither.” All employees will be able to answer the questions early next month.
“Sexual orientation is ‘an inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people,’” the EPA told employees on its agency-wide intranet. The Washington Free Beaconobtained copies of pages from the intranet about the program.
“Gender identity is ‘[o]ne’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither—how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves,’” the EPA said.
“Both sexual orientation and gender identity are part of our demographic makeup; we all have both a sexual orientation and a gender identity,” the agency said.
The agency directed its employees to definitions of gender identity and expression from the Human Rights Campaign.
The EPA offers employees the chance to anonymously answer survey questions about their gender and sexual orientation. The agency said the first phase of the project, which surveyed employees in the Midwest’s Region 5, had a response rate of over 40 percent.
The government hopes it can use the data to “promote equal employment opportunities” and “cultivate workplace diversity and inclusion.”
The EPA said data on sexual orientation and gender identity would impact policies within the agency.
“SOGI data alone, like other workforce demographics, may not be used as a basis for making any employment decisions,” the EPA said. “However, systematic and comprehensive assessment of each of the four interrelated areas can help inform the formulation of policies, practices, and programs to maximize employee engagement and enhance organizational effectiveness.”