An equal employment opportunity (EEO) statement, or affirmative action statement, is a single line or short paragraph displayed on a job advertisement, stating your organization’s commitment to equal opportunity employment practices.
An EEO statement forms part of an organization’s broader diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy, including DEI and EEO policies, DEI training, and diversity workplace events. It indicates that your organization is an equal opportunity employer.
What is an equal opportunity employer?
An equal opportunity employer is an organization committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It doesn’t discriminate against potential or current employees based on any of the following protected characteristics:
- Sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy)
- National origin
- Veteran status
- Genetic information
Am I legally required to have an EEO statement?
Depending on the circumstances, your organization may be required by law to display an EEO statement on all job postings.
In the US, for example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires any federal contractors with a contract starting at $10,000 to display an EEO statement. The specific protected characteristics the contractor must include in their statement depend on the value of their contract.
Many organizations choose to display an EEO, even when they are not legally required to do so.
Why should you have an EEO statement?
There are several reasons why you might elect to display an EEO statement:
- External values statement. An EEO demonstrates that your organization believes in equal opportunity and fairness when it comes to your hiring practices. Making this commitment indicates a willingness to be held publicly accountable for it.
- Clarity of cultural values. To be effective, DEI must become a part of an organization’s culture. Expressly stating a commitment to inclusive and diverse hiring practices helps employees understand the organization’s values and support them.
- Reputational value. An EEO statement is a good way to communicate your organization’s approach to DEI to external stakeholders such as customers, clients, vendors, and partners, in addition to new hires. For many stakeholders, a diverse and inclusive workplace is a relevant factor when deciding to buy from or do business with an organization.
- Attract quality new hires. 76% of respondents in a Glassdoor survey cited a diverse workforce as an important factor when considering organizations and job offers. Displaying an EEO statement ensures you attract a diverse range of applicants and find the best, most meritorious candidate for a role.
How to write an effective EEO statement
Firstly, an EEO statement needs to incorporate any necessary legal requirements. For example, the US Department of Labor provides acceptable terminology for federal contractors to use in their EEO statements.
When you’re writing an EEO statement, here are a few other points to keep in mind:
- Be genuine. EEO statements aren’t a marketing exercise to pack full of buzzwords and call it a day. They must accurately reflect your employment process and practices, which should include specific actions to ensure a diverse and inclusive workforce. Actions speak louder than words–candidates can spot if an employer is merely paying lip service to these values and it will discourage them from applying.
- Be specific. State that you are an equal opportunity employer and list the protected characteristics your employment practices respect, as well as the specific processes your EEO statement applies to, such as recruitment, termination, promotion, and training.
- Align the statement with your DEI policy. An EEO statement can explain why diversity and inclusion are key to your organization’s approach and hiring practices, in line with your DEI policy.
- Adapt the language. Even if you’re legally required to have one, don’t fill your EEO statement with legal jargon or complex language. Keep it easy to read and understand, and don’t be afraid to adapt it to suit the tone of your brand.
- Link to your EEO or DEI policy. If you have a detailed EEO or DEI policy, link to it in your EEO statement. Potential candidates can then learn more about your equal opportunity employment practices and the steps you’re taking to promote DEI in your workplace. US employers can also link to EEOC resources such as the EEO is the Law poster.
- Include contact information. Provide a contact email so potential job applicants can request any accommodations they need to apply for the role. This reinforces your commitment to taking concrete action to incorporate diversity and inclusion practices in your hiring.
Examples of EEO statements
Becker Lawyers’ EEO statement is available on its careers page. Despite being a law firm, it avoids using any legal jargon, communicating its approach to workplace diversity in clear, easy-to-understand language:
“Workplace diversity refers to the protection, respect and inclusion of all of the attributes that each employee contributes to the workplace. We strive for a workplace that welcomes and respects all employees regardless of any protected class status, including, but not limited to, race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, military service, age, ancestry, and disability.
As such, it is the policy of Becker to recruit, employ, train, develop, and promote employees on the basis of individual qualifications, competence, and merit. We believe that all persons are entitled to equal employment opportunity and do not discriminate on any basis prohibited by applicable law. It is our goal to fully comply with the letter of the law, as well as its spirit and intent.”
Substack keeps its EEO short and sweet, covering the essential information:
“Substack is an equal opportunity employer. All applicants will be considered for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or transgender status), age, national origin, veteran or disability status.”
In comparison, Pinterest goes into much more detail. At first, it adapts the statement to the brand’s tone of voice, then explains its anti-discrimination policy and inclusive hiring practices and provides an email contact:
“We’re looking for all kinds of people. To build an app that’s used and loved by people all around the world, we need a team with all kinds of different perspectives, experiences and backgrounds.
To put it legally: Pinterest is an equal opportunity employer and makes employment decisions on the basis of merit. We want to have the best qualified people in every job. Pinterest policy prohibits unlawful discrimination based on race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion or religious creed, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, status as a protected veteran, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information or characteristics (or those of a family member). Or any other consideration made unlawful by applicable federal, state or local laws. It also prohibits discrimination based on the perception that anyone has any of these characteristics, or is associated with a person who has or is perceived as having any of those characteristics. All such discrimination is unlawful. We take steps to provide our employees, applicants, and others with whom we do business with an environment that is free of any form of discrimination and harassment (including harassment based on any of these characteristics). Pinterest will not tolerate statements or actions that create a discriminatory or harassing work environment. Nor will we tolerate any coercion, intimidation, interference or other retaliation against any member of our workforce for making a complaint in compliance with Pinterest’s policies or for assisting in any investigation of unlawful discrimination or harassment.
Pinterest is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans in our job applications procedures. If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability. Please contact us at [email protected].”
How to support your EEO statement
Your EEO statement needs to be more than a token reference to diversity and inclusion in your employment practices. It should also be backed up by a robust DEI strategy and related policies and programs.
Depending on the size of their contract and number of employees, federal contractors may also have ongoing reporting obligations. These include affirmative action plans, EEO-1 Component 1 reports on demographic workplace data, and VETS-4212 forms reporting positive steps taken to employ veterans.
Some of these requirements also apply to private sector employers with a certain number of employees.
Whether you’re a federal contractor or not, there are other steps you can take to reinforce your EEO statement, such as:
- Measuring its effectiveness by collecting and collating workforce demographics data
- Conducting a focus group with current employees to get feedback on your EEO statement and how it could be improved
- Expanding your careers page to include more information about your DEI practices when it comes to employment, such as testimonies from current employees, statistics, and your organization’s values statement
These additional efforts show your EEO statement is genuine and supported by broader policies and actions.
An EEO statement is a short line or paragraph displayed on job postings or your careers page, stating your organization’s commitment to diverse and inclusive hiring practices. This means you don’t discriminate against potential or current employees based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, disability, veteran status, or genetic information.
While not always required by law, an effective EEO statement can be a useful tool in the context of your organization’s broader DEI policy.