What Is EEO?
Equal Employment Opportunity, more commonly known as EEO, refers to the concept that all candidates, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race, age, socioeconomic status, religion, disability, etc. will be fairly considered for a role and/or job benefits. The purpose of EEO is to 'level the playing field' and protect people from being subject to discrimination and prejudice based on characteristics that aren't related to how qualified they are for the position.
Equal Employment Opportunity helps to reduce potential barriers that may prevent certain groups of people from entering and/or progressing in a workplace, and is a fundamental element for diversity to thrive.
EEO is safeguarded by a number anti-discrimination laws at both the federal and state levels. This means that your business will have to comply with all applicable laws, depending on the state that you are operating within. Generally, federal and state legislations will cross-over. However, it is important that the nuances between them are understood, so that your business can meet all relevant legal obligations surrounding EEO, anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, etc.
For some of the laws designed to protect people from discrimination and harrassment, and uphold EEO, click here.
Equal Employment Opportunity should not be implemented superficially, merely to increase goodwill towards your business. Effective EEO that is beneficial for all parties involved, requires considerable commitment from all tiers of the business' hierarchy, especially from senior management.
Benefits of EEO In The Workplace
Aside from assisting marginalised groups in Australia's labour force, the successful integration of EEO practices can have significant benefits for your business' bottomline. This is because effective anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies and procedures can help increase productivity and efficiency, encourage greater variety in skill sets, improve company culture, and create a breeding ground for innovation.
1) Improve Your Chances Of Finding The Right Talent
Workplaces that have EEO policies in place, are usually more successful in attracting a diverse pool of talented candidates. This is because when a business is known for implementing EEO, candidates are assured that they will be judged based on their individual merit, which encourages greater applications. This increased volume of candidates, in turn, helps to increase the chances of finding an applicant that perfectly matches the role being offered.
Less inclusive businesses may deter a broader range of people from applying for a position, as they might be fearful that they won't be fairly considered amongst other candidates.
2) Improve Your Company Culture & Reputation
Having active and consistently enacted EEO policies helps to boost company morale and build a positive reputation for the company. This is because when you improve accessibility and create an inclusive workforce, it lays the foundations for a company culture that is tolerant, open, and accepting. Also, the positive reputation that can come from a business' commitment to EEO, can make them well-regarded in their industry, and potentially earn them a competitive advantage.
3) Boost Productivity and Innovation
When your business is more open to a diversified workforce, you effectively increase the variety in ideas, experiences, skills and talents available to the company. This allows innovation to prosper as there are new perspectives and expertise to draw from, which can lead to better informed decision-making and novel solutions.
Implementing EEO In The Workplace
Implementing and promoting Equal Employment Opportunity in the workplace can be a huge undertaking. It requires a concerted effort from across the entire company, in order to ensure that the company is unified and dedicated to enabling openness and inclusivity.
1 - Secure Commitment From Upper Management
In order for EEO to be effectively implemented into a workplace, commitment from senior management needs to be secured. This is one of the most important steps, because upper management possess the power and resources required to achieve organisation-wide change. Senior management is responsible for the creation of policies surrounding EEO, which outlines the company's obligations, acceptable and unacceptable employment practices, the management of grievances, etc.
Commitment to EEO from senior management will also help to set the tone for the rest of the company and build the foundations for greater inclusivity.
Without the support of senior management for EEO, only superficial measures will be taken, initiatives will most likely fail, and meaningful organisational change will be difficult to achieve.
2 - Educate and Train Your Team
Education and training is also very crucial in ensuring that EEO practices are executed across the board. Empowering your workforce with knowledge and training, will help your workers understand what EEO entails, the EEO policies that the company currently has in place, their role in upholding these policies, confronting unconscious biases and dispelling misconceptions, and plant the seed that will encourage them to be more accepting of a diverse workplace.
Education and training is the key to dispersing the inclusive culture that comes along with the integration of EEO principles.
3 - Review Procedures & Policies To Identify Barriers
To ensure that the EEO practices have firmly been integrated into the company, their policies and procedures should be regularly reviewed to identify any potential barriers that certain groups may encounter. This is vital because the whole purpose of EEO is to allow everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, religion, etc., equal access to job opportunities. The review process for a business' policies and procedures allows management to go through their operations with a fine-toothed comb and fix any hurdles that these marginalised groups may encounter. For example, during a review of your recruitment process, your business may discover that it only advertises positions online. This may prevent people from low socioeconomic areas from seeing the position, even though they may be qualified for it. Spreading a job advertisement via a range of mediums would enable greater access and potentially improve your chances of finding your perfect candidate.
Regular review of these procedures and policies will help to keep them up-to-date and compliant with all relevant EEO practices, laws and regulations.
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