I am not an expert on diversity or EEO statements because I am the most diverse person in the room. I need to say that upfront. I get a very expectant look whenever there’s a discussion on diversity and inclusion. I imagine it has something to do with my short hair and proud life, but the truth is that I don’t have the answers. I don’t train on the topic (but I can recommend some fantastic people who will. I recommend Sarah Morgan’s upcoming conference. MORE DETAILS.)
I do look at job postings through that lens. They’re the first impression we have of a job and team culture, and often they carry the internal bias of that organization without anyone realizing it. There’s so much more, too. Prejudice comes in many forms, and it’s part of traditional techniques for job postings, not simple vocabulary.
If you look at job posts over the last 100 years, you’ll see that little work was done to remove bias from job postings besides removing actual skin color requirements. Yes, that did happen in the 1920s.
Busting Bias: Are EEO Statements Enough?
I’ve written about different ways to remove the bias from job postings before, but not about EEO Statements. If you’re not an HR lady, EEO stands for Equal Employment Opportunity. It’s the standard one-liner at the bottom of a posting that says this:
We’re an equal opportunity employer. All applicants will be considered for employment without attention to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran, or disability status.
Wow. So inclusive. *
*Note the sarcasm.
In all seriousness, that’s where the effort to make a job posting inclusive stops in most cases. Copy and paste. How does this show that a company is an equal opportunity employer? Your template is a turn-off.
But here’s the more significant, and more concerning, question that I know people aren’t asking in too many cases: is it even true at your company?
We live in a world where people want proof, and lies lead to bad press for companies. Why should EEO statements be any exception? People want to know that their workplace isn’t so biased, and your EEO statement is just one place where you can tell that story.
How do you tell your story with an EEO statement?
You start by ensuring that the people who already work for your company are satisfied with your equal employment efforts. Don’t make superficial, external content changes when you haven’t made the ones on the inside for employees. If you’re there, great. Keep reading.
The change is about making the EEO statement human. It’s about bringing universal human experiences of acceptance to the forefront. You can’t rely on the same-old, same-old templates to effectively tell your story.
Here are a few EEO statements that hit the mark.
We don’t just accept difference — we celebrate it, support it, and thrive on it for the benefit of our employees, our products, and our community. We are proud to be an equal opportunity workplace and an affirmative action employer.
We are an equal opportunity employer. What does that mean? In all aspects of employment, including the decision to hire, promote, discipline, or discharge, the choice 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.
It’s not against the law to inject creativity in your EEO statement. Show people who you are. Tell your story.
Want more EEO statements and a lesson on writing an inclusive job posting? Buy my new online course. I have 15+ EEO ideas, 11 how-to videos, templates, and a lot more content to help you create more inclusive job postings.
Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.
Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.