What Are the Benefits of Equal Opportunity Policies?
An equal opportunity policy -- referred to by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as an equal employment opportunity policy -- prohibits workplace discrimination in employment actions. EEO policies are based on federal employment laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Employers that wholly embrace EEO policies reap numerous tangible and intangible benefits.
Employers that have EEO policies typically are able to attract a more diverse pool of qualified applicants. Word of mouth among job seekers spreads quickly, and employers with biased hiring practices may drive away potential applicants, who may avoid the company because of its unethical practices or for fear of being turned down because of the company's bias. EEO policies ensure that fair consideration is given to qualified applicants, regardless of non-job-related factors such as race, sex, disability, ethnicity or color.
There may be fewer incidents of workplace conflict when an organization stands firm on its EEO policies and enforces guidelines for fair treatment in the workplace. Workplace conflict, in some instances, is attributed to a lack of understanding of fair employment practices and ethics that support equal treatment for employees. Companies that value EEO policies often provide training for both staff and leadership on equal employment, workplace diversity and respect for cultural difference. Training in these areas supports the company's philosophy on EEO principles and can be an effective proactive measure for curbing incidences of workplace conflict.
Fewer incidents of workplace conflict and fair employment practices mitigate the risk of formal complaints and litigation based on allegations of discriminatory treatment in hiring and employment practices. The tangible benefits of EEO policies include reduced fees for legal expenses and associated costs involved in defending employment actions. Reducing staff time spent investigating workplace issues and avoiding the resulting loss of productivity are measurable benefits of an EEO policy.
EEO policies illustrate an organization's commitment to doing the right thing. Doing the right thing can boost employee morale, which in turn can decrease turnover. An organization that lacks an EEO policy risks the effects of employee dissatisfaction. Turnover can occur because of voluntary resignations from employees who are disenchanted with unfair employment policies. When employee morale is up and turnover is low, companies may see measurable positive differences in productivity and profitability. Although morale is intangible, EEO policies that improve morale can impact the appeal for investors, according to "The Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility," an article published by the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation. According to author Matteo Tonello, EEO policies have a positive impact on the value of corporate stock because they diminish costs associated with low morale and turnover.
Organizations with EEO policies tend to be well regarded in their industries. Their commitment to fair, equal treatment makes a difference in the workforce and in the way their employees conduct business. Companies generally don't adopt EEO policies for the sole purpose of improving their reputation as industry leaders, but an EEO policy can affect the company's imprint based on its actions as they relate to corporate social responsibility.