Answered by Eddie, Hiring Expert at Quest Diagnostics, on Friday, August 10, 2018
If you're referring to the question that appears on the average job application, it's normally for a couple of reasons. One, many employers want to increase the diversity in their organization to drive innovation, make the business more dynamic and/or to serve a diverse customer base more effectively. For example, there are quite a few companies that need bilingual employees to serve their Spanish-speaking customers. Second, there are companies and organizations that have government contracts, and they are required to report on their diversity and inclusion practices. This is an accountability measure to ensure that employers are not excluding candidates on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, ability, religion, gender, etc. If hear that question in an interview, however, that is a bit stickier. The interview should be focused on your skills, experience and ability to do the work, even if the interviewer is innocently curious. Please note that while employers want to increase diversity, they still need candidates who have the appropriate skills, credentials, and/or experience for their positions. I hope this helps!