The addition of nationality and ethnic origin has been recommended for fair employment monitoring.
The Equality Commission examines data from employers in Northern Ireland about the make-up of their workforce.
Among the information monitored are the numbers of Protestants and Catholics, as well as male and female workers.
Chief commissioner Dr Michael Wardlow said the monitoring process is making an “important contribution to ensuring fair participation in workplaces across Northern Ireland”.
He described the region as a “very different place” to 30 years ago, with many people from other countries now coming to settle here.
Consequently Dr Wardlow said the commission now believes the time is right to update fair employment monitoring regulations.
“We have recommended, for instance, the extension of monitoring requirements to include nationality and ethnic origin to ensure the continuing usefulness of the fair employment monitoring regulations and to enable employers to make a more accurate and meaningful assessment of fair participation in their organisation,” he said.
The latest Fair Employment Monitoring Report shows a breakdown of community background in the current workforce as 50.7% Protestant and 49.3% Catholic – a 0.4% increase in the Catholic share from the previous year.
Women account for 51.8% of the monitored workforce as they have done for the last three years. Their share of the private sector workforce is at 45.2%, while in the public sector, women account for 65.8% of employees.
Meanwhile, those whose community background was not determined represented 10.9% of the overall monitored workforce, an increase of 1.7 percentage points from the previous year.
The report is drawn from data provided to the commission by employers, based on their workforces in the year 2018. The total monitored workforce was 563,229, an increase of 22,332 (4.1%).
Dr Wardlow commended employers for their “extremely high rate” of compliance with the fair employment monitoring regulations.
“The monitoring process itself is making an important contribution to ensuring fair participation in workplaces across Northern Ireland, helping employers to focus on issues within their own workforce and enabling the commission to work with individual firms and public bodies to address the imbalances revealed,” he said.
The monitored workforce represents almost 70% of Northern Ireland’s total workforce and includes all public sector employers and all private sector employers with 11 or more employees.