While on first glance "equal opportunities employer" sounds like a good thing, it can be hard to parse exactly what the phrase means. An equal opportunity statement is often included on job postings, company webpages and employment portals — but being an equal opportunities employer means much more than putting pixels on a screen. We've broken down everything you need to know about equal opportunity statements, including what it means to really be an equal opportunities employer and how to write a statement that communicates an organization's true values in a way that appeals to prospective talent.
What is an equal opportunity statement?
An Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statement allows organizations to communicate that they are an equal opportunity employer. These statements are often published on an organization's website and included on their job postings.
So, what does 'equal opportunities employer' mean?
Based on Federal regulations, an equal opportunity employer is "an employer who pledges not to discriminate against employees based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability or genetic information.”
Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which established the EEOC, it has been illegal for most companies to discriminate against employees or job applicants based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Since then, legislation has been passed to encompass all of protected attributes we find in federal law today. However, not all companies must comply with EEOC law. Religious organizations, for example, are able to not hire people of certain religions because it may go against their missions. Similarly, some businesses and labor organizations are so small that they aren't federally regulated.
Companies elect to use equal opportunity statements to share that they are in compliance with EEOC law, even if they are technically exempt. While equal employment opportunity statements aren’t legally required (except for groups hoping to contract or subcontract with the federal government), they may be useful in establishing an organization as diverse and inclusive workplaces. They communicate an employer's dedication to unbiased recruiting, hiring and employment practices, which may encourage traditionally marginalized groups to seek employment within the organization. These statements also allow job applicants and employees to know that any discriminatory act that occurs within the hiring or employment practice — whether unprecedented or not — is unacceptable and should be reported, allowing organizations to upkeep an inclusive organizational culture.
Why are equal opportunities employers important?
Equal opportunities employers aren't just important because they're legally required. Everyone should have the basic right to work somewhere they're treated with respect and without being subject to discrimination.
Equal opportunity statements are only the first step.
While drafting an equal opportunity statement is an important first step in fostering equal employment opportunities, organizations can't stop there. In order to build a workplace that lives up to their EEO statement — one that is free of discrimination and full of opportunity – organizations must take several steps beyond publishing their statement online.
First, organizations must work to make sure their recruitment, hiring and employment practices are not discriminatory. Many organizations devise and publish a code of conduct that helps to regulate these practices and ensures bias and discrimination are not welcome within business practices. Additionally, organizations should foster an inclusive organizational culture, complete with policies that ensure a fair and welcoming environment, and provide ample opportunities for employees to report instances of discrimination without fearing retaliation. Many organizations institute a zero-tolerance harassment policy and anti-retaliation policies to encourage people to speak up about harassment.
5 things a company needs to be deserving of an EEO statement
So, which of the supporting details above are necessary to deserve an EEO statement? Here are a few key equal opportunity initiatives that should be in place before you announce your EEO status.
1. An organization should be in full compliance with EEOC law.
Obviously, an organization should be following the law no matter what. But in order to merit a published EEO statement, an organization should audit its practices to ensure they are in full compliance with EEOC law and not utilizing any policies that discriminate against a protected class.
2. An organization should use inclusive language that emphasizes the importance of diversity in its recruitment, hiring, onboarding and internal communication.
Inclusive language — including the use of gender neutral pronouns — should be used across promotional and internal communication to make every applicant and employee feel like they belong within your practices. This will promote greater engagement from marginalized groups and provide more equal opportunities for promotions, hires and other job metrics.
3. An organization should provide managers, especially hiring managers, with unconscious bias trainings.
To stop bias on the interpersonal level before it begins, an equal opportunity employer should provide its managers (or entire workforce) with unconscious bias trainings.
4. An organization should have policies to handle reported cases of harassment and discrimination.
In order to make sure an organization's policies are working and its employees are withholding its high standards for equal opportunity, there should be ample chances for cases of harassment and discrimination to be reported and processes to follow to investigate and act on reports. Many equal opportunity employers have a zero-tolerance harassment policy. These policies should include protections against retaliation for those who report.
5. An organization should encourage employees to bring their entire selves to work and easily provide accommodations for them to do so.
Employees should feel comfortable being their whole selves at work and should be encouraged to request reasonable accommodations if they need them.
11 examples of effective equal opportunity statements
Now that you know what an EEO statement is, why it's important and how to follow through with the equality you're promising, it's time to write one. These examples from established organizations with a commitment to equal opportunity employment can help you model an EEO statement that fits yours.
While some of these examples get right to the point, others use the statements as employment branding tools by reiterating the importance of diversity within the organization. Similarly, while some organizations only promise not to discriminate against legally protected groups, others expand their definition of equal opportunity to include not legally protected groups. To be inclusive of differently-abled people, you may want to include contact information, so they can easily request reasonable accommodations.
1. Google's EEO statement
At Google, we don’t just accept difference - we celebrate it, we support it, and we thrive on it for the benefit of our employees, our products and our community. Google is an equal opportunity employer. Employment at Google is based solely on a person's merit and qualifications directly related to professional competence. Google does not discriminate against any employee or applicant because of race, creed, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, pregnancy or related condition (including breastfeeding), or any other basis protected by law.
It is Google's policy to comply with all applicable national, state and local laws pertaining to nondiscrimination and equal opportunity. The Company's EEO policy, as well as its affirmative action obligations, includes the full & complete support of the Company, including its Chief Executive Officer. Because it's just the right thing to do. We hope you think so, too.
2. Visa's EEO statement
Universal acceptance for everyone, everywhere is at the heart of our company. We promote diversity of thought, culture and background, which connects the entire Visa family. As such, Visa is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion or religious creed, mental or physical disability, medical condition, genetic information, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, military or veteran status, citizenship, or other characteristics protected by state or federal law or local ordinance.
3. Microsoft's EEO statement
Microsoft maintains a work environment free from discrimination, one where employees are treated with dignity and respect. All employees share in the responsibility for fulfilling Microsoft’s commitment to equal employment opportunity. Microsoft does not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of age, ancestry, color, family or medical care leave, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, national origin, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, protected veteran status, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by applicable laws, regulations and ordinances. We adhere to these principles in all aspects of employment, including recruitment, hiring, training, compensation, promotion, benefits, social and recreational programs, and discipline. In addition, it is the policy of Microsoft to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified employees who have protected disabilities to the extent required by applicable laws, regulations and ordinances where a particular employee works. For more information about reasonable accommodation, visit the Accommodation Request page.
4. McKinsey & Company's EEO statement
McKinsey & Company is an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to a work environment that supports, inspires, and respects all individuals and in which personnel processes are merit-based and applied without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, age, disability, national or ethnic origin, military service status, citizenship, or other protected characteristic.
5. The U.S. government's EEO statement
The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.
6. Tesla's EEO statement
Tesla is an equal opportunity employer. All aspects of employment including the decision to hire, promote, discipline, or discharge, will be based on merit, competence, performance, and business needs. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, marital status, age, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, pregnancy, genetic information, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, or any other status protected under federal, state, or local law.
7. Facebook's EEO statement
Facebook is proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer. We do not discriminate based upon race, religion, color, national origin, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, or other applicable legally protected characteristics.
If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, you may contact us at [email protected] or you may call us at 1+650-308-7837.
8. Under Armour's EEO statement
At Under Armour, we are committed to providing an environment of mutual respect where equal employment opportunities are available to all applicants and teammates without regard to race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy (including childbirth, lactation and related medical conditions), national origin, age, physical and mental disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information (including characteristics and testing), military and veteran status, and any other characteristic protected by applicable law. Under Armour believes that diversity and inclusion among our teammates is critical to our success as a global company, and we seek to recruit, develop and retain the most talented people from a diverse candidate pool.
9. SurveyMonkey's EEO statement
SurveyMonkey is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees.
10. Nike's EEO statement
NIKE is an Equal Opportunity Employer, which means we will not discriminate against any individual based on race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, military or veteran status, disability, or any factors prohibited by applicable law. This policy applies to every aspect of employment at NIKE, including recruitment, hiring, training, advancement, and termination. It is the responsibility of every employee to follow this policy to the letter; NIKE will not tolerate violation of it — or ignorance of it
11. AT&T's EEO statement
AT&T Companies prohibit unlawful discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, pregnancy, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, citizenship status, military status, veteran status, or any other characteristic to the extent protected by federal, state, or local laws. This policy against harassment or discrimination extends to coworkers, contractors, vendors, and customers.
AT&T also has a strict no-retaliation policy. AT&T prohibits retaliation against individuals who report harassment or discrimination, or who participate in investigations into such conduct. Violations of any of these policies could lead to disciplinary action.
Overall, equal opportunity statements are important in communicating organizational values to employees and potential hires, along with being important in complying with federal EEOC regulations. But employment opportunity statements are just the beginning. An organization must have an inclusive culture and inclusive systems in place to truly foster equal employment opportunities.