I received this reply when I queried the bank about the racial and ethnic questions they ask on surveys:

Hello Susan,

Thanks so much for reaching out and inquiring about one of our survey questions.

We include this particular question because the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law passed by the European Union in 2016 requires that we get consent from individuals to collect various protected classes of information, including race and ethnicity.   While the GDPR law applies only to residents of the European Union, Ipsos as a global company has decided to be GDPR compliant everywhere it operates in the world.

Beyond getting your consent to collect information on race and ethnicity, there are a few reasons we want to capture information about race and ethnicity.  The first is we want to ensure that our surveys are representative of the population, including by race.  Secondly, there are a number of issues and events that have very unfairly impacted people and communities of color disproportionately, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many of our clients wish to understand in greater detail how events such as the COVID-19 pandemic are impacting segments of the population differently so they can have a better and more nuanced understanding of each person’s experiences.

We hope you noticed that our question “How would you categorize your race?” allowed for multiple responses so that people who identify as multiracial feel they can accurately represent how they choose to identify.  The question also includes a “Prefer not to answer” choice for those who do not want to provide the information.

Best Regards,

The Bank of America Advisory Panel Team