Is your EEO statement helping or hurting? Here’s how to fix your fair hiring statement for a stronger employer brand

4 min read

Pro-diversity messages are everywhere these days and for good reason. But most workplace diversity programs fail to create meaningful change. If you’re ready to do better, your EEO statement is a great place to start.

Unfortunately, discrimination in the workplace hasn’t gone away. And as HR professionals in a fast-changing society, we need to sit down and really ask ourselves just how fair our hiring process is (or isn’t).

If you’re thinking it’s time to update your recruitment and hiring practices, your equal employment opportunity (EEO) statement is the perfect place to start. Think of it as your mission statement where you can boldly state your commitment to doing better — and in the process, stand out above hundreds of competing employer brands.

What is EEO, exactly?

Hiring isn’t exclusively an HR function. And in case you’re new to the world of labor laws, we’ve got a quick explanation to help you make sense of this EEO stuff.

Equal employment opportunity is the legally protected right of all people to work and progress based on merit, abilities and potential. Free from discrimination based on race, sex, age, religion, national origin, disability, or veteran status. It applies not only to hiring and firing, but also to promotions, harassment, training, salaries and benefits.

The purpose of having an EEO statement is to emphasize an employers’ commitment to equal opportunity. 67% of job seekers say they care about your diversity statistics. Your EEO statement shows them you care, too.

So what makes a truly standout EEO statement?

Well, for starters, you need a genuine belief that diversity and inclusion among teammates are critical to a company’s success. You also need a burning desire to recruit and retain the absolute best, most talented people from the broadest, deepest candidate pool possible. 👌

The impact of an EEO statement on your employer brand

In today’s tight job market, having a strong employer brand is everything.

Whether you know it or not, your EEO statement says something about your brand. If it’s a soulless, boilerplate paragraph packed with legal jargon, potential candidates will feel just as excited about it as you do. 😒

So, be honest. What does your EEO statement say about your employer brand?

Having a clear, compelling EEO statement shows candidates (and current employees!) your company is a great place to work.

It’s no coincidence that many of the companies with a history of ranking among the cream of the crop employer brands are also famous for their commitment to diversity and inclusion. Take AT&T for example. The major telecomms company publishes their diversity data publicly.

  • Total US workforce diversity: 31% women; 43% people of color
  • Total US management diversity: 35% women; 37% people of color
  • Total US workforce retention rate: 85% overall; 82% women; 84% people of color

If you take a close look at the metrics, you’ll realize they’re not just measuring representation overall (bullet 1), they actually go a step deeper to track diversity at the management level (bullet 2) and retention (bullet 3) which indicates a level of inclusion many employer brands have been notoriously slow to adopt.

AT&T’s numbers may not be the most impressive out there, but the public, transparent nature of owning them (via a strong, public EEO statement) is a solid step in the right direction.

What legal boxes should every EEO statement tick?

Since 1972, The Equal Employment Opportunity Act gives the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) authority to sue in cases of discrimination. So yes, parts of your EEO need to be 110% compliant.

Employers and HR professionals are asked by law to:

  • Post a notice in the workplace describing the laws against job discrimination.
  • Make sure every EEO statement needs to include the sentence “[Company name] is an equal opportunity employer.
  • Guarantee every job ad has a statement of non-discriminatory practices.

Got it? Good.

Unfortunately, these efforts aren’t enough. Studies show racial minorities often try to avoid discrimination through a practice called “resume whitening.” That’s why it’s critical to make sure your applications don’t unconsciously encourage would-be candidates to disclose their race.

To make a firm step towards eliminating discrimination at the practical level, it’s important for companies to see EEO statements as not just a formality. From equal hiring practices to compensation and promotion decisions, anti-discriminatory policies must be upheld across every area of the company.

When the spirit of equality is a reality at your workplace, your employees can literally feel it in the air.

Simple ways to revamp your EEO statement

Words matter. And if your EEO statement sounds like a test candidates have to pass, you’re not doing anyone any favors.

Here are a few key phrases to think about for an EEO statement that scratches well below the surface:

  • Inclusive environment
  • Celebrate diversity
  • Pregnancy, gender identity, sexual orientation
  • Free of discrimination and harassment
  • Assistance or accommodation due to a disability
  • Promote and discharge based on merit
  • Mutual respect

Look for places in your EEO statement that feel dry or disengaged and replace them with active language that reflects the kind of vibrant talent you want to attract.

And once you’re ready to go, make sure you post your new and improved job ads in all the right places. Tools like Breezy make it easy to spend your time and energy on the things that matter — say, for example, creating a kickass EEO statement — and take the boring things completely off your plate (cough, cough, manually posting to all the best job boards). Hiring doesn’t have to be hard. Find out how easy it can be with a free trial of Breezy.

Try it now!

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