Creating equal opportunities for all and in every aspect of society, has become an imperative in the majority of today's world. However, interestingly enough, the term dates back from 1964, and the American Civil Rights Act, which made it illegal for companies to discriminate against employees or potential employees based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Despite this relatively long history of trying to cope with the issue, it's been only a few years ago that having equal opportunities for everyone has been taken seriously. Since it’s only been recently that these issues became a part of a dominant narrative, making them sometimes controversial, it is still the case that organizations with their HR departments struggle with creating complete equality.
Is Your Company Really an Equal Opportunity Employer?
For this reason, it is important to always aim to engage in an open dialogue and the exchange of ideas in order to create the organizations of tomorrow. This blog aims to use the following paragraphs to demystify everything you and your organization should know about creating an equal opportunity environment for your employees.
Equality, Diversity & Inclusion
Basically, making sure that the company is being considered as an equal opportunity employer means respecting equality, diversity and inclusion norms. While the terms are intertwined and very much connected, it is important to make a clear distinction when defining the terms.
While respecting diversity is about "appreciating differences between individuals, and in context with the workplace ensuring that each of these varying attributes and characteristics are valued" (Source: giveagradago.com) , equality aims to ensure that all individuals have equal opportunities to succeed, and it prevents individuals from being discriminated against or treated differently due to certain personality or physical characteristics (Source: giveagradago.com).
Finally, we could say that workplace inclusion unites the terms of diversity and equality and highlights the organizational aspect of it, meaning that it stands for: “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.”
What are the Benefits of Being an Equal Opportunity Employer?
While it may have become an imperative for companies to implement various policies in order to become an equal opportunity employer, this may still represent a challenge for some. Not seeing all the positive sides to it is oftentimes a reason that companies don’t concentrate their efforts towards building a strong equal opportunity company. For this reason, we listed 5 most prominent benefits of being an equal opportunity employer.
- Building Commitment
- Awakening Employees to the Issue
- Reducing Conflict
- Increasing Employee Satisfaction and Retention
- Boosting Employer Brand
Having a committed staff in today's world of endless mobility that provides numerous different ways of conducting work represents a challenge for many companies to keep their employees. Additionally, by having other companies breading down your neck, scouting great talent and ready to take over the best ones every day, it becomes extremely important to have loyal employees. Because of that, it is increasingly important to be able to distinguish yourself from the others and offer your employees an additional value when considering to join your team. Not only that joining your team will be more attractive to new hires, but your existing employees will build up their commitment to their workplace.
If we really consider that passive candidates and even the ones not looking for new opportunities are constantly being pitched by recruiters offering new opportunities, it would be good to know that your staff cherishes your extra effort and considers it when thinking out staying or leaving your company.
Awakening Employees to the Issue
Being an equal opportunity employer doesn’t only bring more equality to the workplace, but it also creates an environment that educated everyone about the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion. This means that even someone who didn’t used to pay a lot of attention to equality matters will become more educated on it and potentially decide to become more active in dealing with the issue. This ultimately helps create a society that is awoke to the importance of creating equal opportunities for everyone.
Especially in big international companies, it is often the case that employees might get into some kind of misunderstanding of feud due to a lack of equal opportunities policies. In places where such haven't been implemented, employees might feel a lack of fairness and transparency in the ways that the company does business. Such cases oftentimes happen when there is an evident difference in gender or racial representation of the employees. By ‘simply’ implementing equality stimulating policies, a company creates a transparent way of conducting business and leaves no space for misinterpretation or bad employee relations.
Increasing Employee Satisfaction & Retention
While reading the above mentioned benefits of implementing equal opportunity policies, it becomes quite evident that such policies work for the benefit of your employees. Consequently, working for the wellbeing of employees creates a positive effect on their general work satisfaction levels and ultimately retention. As we discussed in the previous paragraphs, retaining good talent has become a major challenge for the majority of the companies around the world and creating a climate in which they feel appreciated, welcomed and included regardless of their physical differences, may be a breaking point when deciding to join or stay at your company.
Boosting Employer Brand
Being a company that is well known for its respect for the employees creates a certain image of the brand. Not only that the name of the company gets easily associated with a negative perception about the inequality and ‘bad blood’ within it, but it can also face potential legal issues that might permanently damage your employer brand. Since creating a space with equal opportunities for all, has become an imperative and not just a good practice, companies are often facing legal issues and lawsuits when breaking the rules and not respecting equality policies. This causes financial losses and permanent damages regarding the image of the company which can negatively reflect on candidates willingness to join your company.
Ultimately, besides boosting your employer brand by being seen as an equal opportunity employer, it is still most important to actually be such an employer and to have genuine intentions when it comes to having a diverse, equal and inclusive working environment. The ultimate benefit then becomes working towards a more equal society and setting the example for others to implement similar equality policies in their work as well.