Why DoorDash asks for sexual orientation on applications

The only thing that matters when applying for a job is your ability to do the job. Your race, gender, religion, national origin or age does not matter. Nor should your sexual orientation, so why is DoorDash asking applicants to share their sexual orientation as part of the job application process? Job seekers and employers alike will be interested in the answer.

A poster shared on Reddit’s r/mildlyinfuriating subreddit Screenshot of the DoorDash application Asking the applicant to choose a sexual orientation. It sounds offensive and unnecessary, but take a deep breath and realize that companies have been asking these kinds of questions for years, and that’s probably a good thing. Here are the required details.

DoorDash’s Application

Instead of relying on Reddit screenshots, I went straight to DoorDash’s website and looked at the job application. For Jobs in the United States, they really ask about sexual orientation. DoorDash asks applicants to choose from the following options:

  • Gay
  • Gay
  • heterosexual
  • Bisexual
  • Weird
  • other
  • like to self-describe
  • i don’t want to answer

It also asks about pronouns:

  • he/she
  • he / she / his
  • he/them/theirs
  • he/them/theirs
  • they/them/theirs
  • zee
  • zee
  • other
  • like to self-describe
  • i don’t want to answer

It asks about things that have been on job applications over the years, such as veteran status, gender (though this extends beyond the traditional male/female), and race.

You are probably used to the latter as they have been a part of applications for years. DoorDash may be ahead of other companies including the sexual orientation question, but they are preparing for changes to reporting requirements, according to employment attorney and human resources consultant Kate Bischoff.

If you do not know someone’s sexual orientation, you cannot demonstrate if you discriminate against people based on sexual orientation. And so it feels uncomfortable, but Bischoff says, “It’s natural for people to gasp on Reddit. When all the protected sections were first asked, people’s reactions were the same.”

Be careful how you use the data.

DoorDash adds a disclaimer before asking these questions. This indicates:

At DoorDash, we strive to create a culture of belonging where everyone can do their best. Our goal is to ensure that diverse identities and perspectives are valued and flourish. We are continually evaluating our employee and candidate programs and processes and identifying ways to ensure they are inclusive and equitable. We encourage you to share a little more about yourself below so that we can continue to improve the overall candidate experience and inform future diversity and inclusion initiatives.

While it is required to complete this survey, you will have the option to select “I do not wish to be answered” for all questions. All information collected is kept confidential and your data is aggregated with other candidates and used for statistical purposes only. It is never used to identify you personally and has no bearing on your application or candidature.

As long as it is so, it is following the law and not discriminating against the candidates. Hiring managers and recruiters should not have access to this information except in aggregate. That is, they will know how many applicants have selected in each category, but they will not know which candidate did.

As long as DoorDash uses this information to report, it’s okay to ask, even if it’s a little unusual.

Should Your Business Start Asking These Questions?

There is no doubt that many people find these questions offensive and unfair. Still, if you’re putting a rainbow flag on your website without finding out whether you’re treating people fairly regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, you should probably start doing something.

While the federal government does not require businesses to report sexual orientation on its Equal Opportunity Commission report, it is a change that will happen. Federal law protects employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, just as it does race and gender. So it makes sense that businesses need to know how their position is.

You should consult with your employment attorney before changing the self-identification questions of your application, but consider that this may be something you want to start now. Just remember, you have to anonymize the answers. Under no circumstances should they play a role in making appointment decisions.

It’s OK to ask on the application, but not OK to ask at the interview.

The reason you ask these questions on the application is because no one – not the hiring manager or recruiter – sees this information. If you ask this in an interview, you learn the answer and it may influence your hiring decision – even subconsciously. As employment lawyer John Hyman explains, ‘It is none of an employer’s business and it should never have a role in recruitment.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.