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As confusing as it can be, race and ethnicity are very different things. And if you decide to ask survey questions on any of those, make sure to be extra careful as trying to categorize people into pre-defined racial and ethical groups can be offensive for some.
When we talk about race, we refer to a person’s biological, genetic physical structure. Whereas ethnicity is from what culture, tradition, roots, history and geography a person comes from. But why is it important to ask questions on race in your survey? Well, as a business which is spread globally, you want to know how people from various backgrounds respond to your survey questions. Customers belonging to different nationalities, race and ethnicity might feel differently about the same thing. So, to do business efficiently and with taking everyone on board, it is important that you include race and ethnicity questions in your survey, keeping in mind the sensitivity of the topic.
In 1977, OMB (Office of management and budget) stated Statistical policy directive number 15, Race “Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting” which identified four major racial categories such as:
And, two ethnicity categories were identified:
Later on in 1997, OMB issued Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity which had two new modifications.
So that makes now five categories for data on race:
And two categories of ethnicity:
According to the guidance issued by OMB on October 19, 2007, data collection on race and ethnicity by postsecondary institutions must use two-question format:
This gives us 64 possible combinations of responses (including non-response to either question), up to and including the selection of all five race items.
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