Every employer should have a written, published equal opportunity (EEO) policy that, at a minimum, broadly outlines the company’s commitment to making employment decisions on the basis of factors such as abilities and performance, rather than on the basis of factors such as race, gender, religion (or various other protected characteristics).
We’ve provided a general template that outlines:
- The minimum language that should be used to define a company’s commitment to equal opportunity, and
- A company’s assurances to employees that it will comply with the obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees.
While the template provides language that covers the general legal obligations related to EEO and reasonable accommodations, we encourage employers to not only customize the language to reflect specifics (related to industry, company culture, etc.), but we also encourage organizations to look beyond what is legally mandated and consider including:
- A broader commitment to the concept of equal opportunity. This is a great place to tout a company’s commitment to creating a healthy and inclusive workplace culture and a great place to define what that means to the company. Perhaps a company has the concept of equal opportunity embedded in the company mission or vision. If so, this is the perfect place to reiterate so that the company can continue to tell employees, at every employee touch point, that leadership is certainly aware of the need to comply with EEO laws, but that the company strives to infuse much loftier ideals than simple legal compliance. This is a place where modern and forward-looking employers can provide examples of the work it’s doing in the areas of elimination of bias (conscious and unconscious), a commitment to increasing diversity, and a pledge to implement systems to increase inclusion and belonging.
- An extended explanation of the company’s commitment to integrating disabled employees so that they can fully participate and bring full value at work. This means adding language that makes it clear that the company’s commitment is to provide a process that is equal parts predictable and flexible. Predictable enough to provide any disabled employee with clear instructions on how to request a reasonable accommodation, but flexible enough to recognize that no request for accommodation is like any other and must, therefore, be looked at independently and fairly.