Equal Employment Opportunity | How Does it Affect the Workplace?

Equal employment opportunity (EEO) is the workforce principle where all people in an organisation have equal access to employment opportunities based on merit.

No matter the background, ethnicity, gender, age, race or colour, everyone in the organisation must be able to progress their career pathway and access opportunities, as they arise. This is the core principle of equal employment opportunity.

The key issue here is merit. All things being equal, as people grow, develop, and learn in their roles, they stand to increase their capabilities and technical prowess. These factors are important in an equal employment opportunity environment. Because in their absence, new opportunities can’t be front and centre as the playing field must remain fair and open. This is where the nuanced assessments of business leaders come to the fore.

Equal employment opportunity allows all workers in an organisation – regardless of their working status (full-time, contingent, part-time, Statement of Work etc) – to have access to opportunities without fear of discrimination or harassment. In an EEO workplace, these elements of fear and discrimination simply don’t exist.

Today, we’re going to cover the concept of equal employment opportunity and what you may want to include in your company’s EEO policy.

The Framework for Equal Employment Opportunity

The Australian Federal Government has passed numerous laws which aim to protect people from discrimination within the workplace. These laws include the:

Along with the state-based anti-discrimination legislation, these laws are the primary source of most companies’ EEO agreements. On this basis, organisations who hire, manage, or terminate an employment or work contract, must not discriminate against workers, based on multiple attributes, which include:

  • race
  • ethnicity
  • colour
  • relationship status
  • religion
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • gender identity
  • political opinion
  • age
  • family or carer responsibilities
  • pregnancy
  • mental or physical disability
  • political opinion

Learn more about Equal Employment Opportunity with CXC

Why Should Employers Care About Equal Employment Opportunities?

The adoption of an equal employment opportunity workforce makes good ethical and business sense.

EEO workforces provide for a more diverse cross-section of workers. And compared with their less diverse counterparts, employers with greater diversity across their workforce typically enjoy:

  • better worker productivity
  • higher levels of innovation and creative thinking
  • more revenue
  • improved adaptability
  • better decision-making results, when undertaken by a diverse team

And adopting the underlying principles of equal employment opportunity, organisations can attract a more diverse workforce, and achieve a healthier workplace culture.

An EEO policy and culture also serve to protect the employer from rogue individuals who may be harassing or bullying others in the workplace. You see, by establishing and upholding the key EEO principles outlined in the relevant legislation, employers can show, in a situation where a bullying or harassment complaint has been raised, that they have taken reasonable steps to prevent such behaviour, and minimise its risk to others.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Policy: What’s Important to Include?

The EEO policy needs to clearly define how the employer will comply with all obligations under the relevant equal employment opportunity legislation.

The company’s EEO policy must be included in the employee handbook, the internal policy suite (typically on the company intranet) and provided to all categories of workers during the onboarding process.

Also, it’s a great idea to conduct regular training sessions to ensure all workers are regularly reminded of their EEO obligations and the importance of these obligations within the context of the business culture.

Here are the key areas to factor into your EEO policy:

Recruitment and Termination

It’s a good idea to include the company’s focus and emphasis on merit-based hiring and performance management without regard to workers’ race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or other personal attributes.

This means that your company will not take these characteristics into account when making hiring, termination, or promotion decisions.

In doing so, you can demonstrate that your company will endeavour to eliminate discrimination which can lead to bias and inequality and ultimately create a less inclusive workplace.

If workers don’t feel valued based on merit, morale will decline, and workers will likely feel little impetus to give more or try harder. In the worst-case scenario, an exclusive, biased, or intolerant workplace culture will invariably cause employees to leave.

Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying

Your EEO policy must address discrimination, bullying, and harassment. And so in your EEO policy, it’s important to include details regarding:

  • the definition of discrimination and harassment
  • steps the business is taking to minimise these scenarios
  • a grievances policy that allows employees to make a complaint concerning these matters
  • a process to handle and resolve complaints

Equal Employment Opportunity | How Does it Affect the Workplace?

Promoting Equal Opportunities

It’s ideal for the EEO policy to highlight how the employer addresses equal opportunity in the workplace. For example:

  • workplace flexibility policies for parents or those with carer responsibilities
  • equal training opportunities for men and women in the workplace
  • reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities.

Application of EEO Policy

The policy must explicitly state that it applies to the following:

  • all workers across all categories (full-time, part-time, casual, temp, contingent, contract, statement of work)
  • workers attending the workplace (onsite), workers working from home (offsite), workers attending work-related events or company functions or activities happening outside of the workplace
  • all employment processes, including hiring, training, and dismissing employees.

In addition, it’s a good idea for the policy to highlight how the company meets their obligations under the relevant state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

Responsibilities

Responsibilities for EEO policy implementation will leave zero confusion as to how the policy is enacted and how EEO processes are applied across the workforce.

The policy must state who is responsible for the various EEO processes, the escalation points for unresolved issues, and the reporting mechanisms for related issues. For example, if a line manager can’t resolve a complaint, Human Resources may be the next point of escalation.

Managers and senior employees must be empowered with the responsibility to ensure the workforce under their domain, is completely free from discrimination, harassment, bullying or biased decision-making.

Example Policies

I’ve provided some example EEO policies, below.

Suncorp

Victoria University

RMIT

Business Victoria

Deloitte US

Finally…

Today, many Australian employers adopt EEO policies to ensure fairness in the workplace, real diversity across the workforce, and to create a safe and unbiased workplace for all workers. Irrespective of the size, structure, industry or niche of your business, equal employment opportunities will establish your business as a credible, sought-after employer. As I stated earlier, it’s simply good ethical and good business sense.

 

As one of the world’s leading providers of contingent worker management solutionsCXC is well positioned to optimise all elements of your contingent workforce strategy. With operations in more than 50 countries across five continents and decades of experience, we can assist with every aspect of your program.

If you are interested in discussing equal employment opportunities for your workforce and would like to find out more about how we can work together, please contact us.

 

Share
Tweet
Share