As you probably know, federal law prohibits discriminating against job applicants. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says:
“It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant because of his or her race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.”
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But take a look at your latest job posting. There’s a good chance it doesn’t show your company’s commitment to providing equal opportunity for all candidates. In a recent survey of job listings, 8 out of 10 listings included no mention of EEOC compliance, anti-discrimination practices or commitment to workplace inclusivity.
Here’s how to vet your job listing to make sure it’s not discriminatory—and that it’s welcoming to a diverse pool of applicants.
Step 1: Use objective, non-preferential language
Whether it’s intentional or not, job listings can show bias towards certain kinds of candidates and against others.
It is illegal for an employer to publish a job advertisement that shows a preference for or discourages someone from applying for a job because of his or her race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
For example, a help-wanted ad that seeks ‘females’ or ‘recent college graduates’ may discourage men and people over 40 from applying and may violate the law.
Take a deep look at your job posting and make sure it holds up to these standards. It helps to have a colleague double-check your work and make sure any biased language is identified and eliminated.
Step 2: Explicitly state that you’re an equal opportunity employer
Because federal law already prohibits workplace discrimination, you might not think you have to mention it in your job listing. It’s supposed to go without saying, like “We pay our employees on time” and “Our office meets fire code.”
You may want to include “We are an equal opportunity employer” in your job listing regardless. Why? Because it shows that you take the designation seriously.
Also, job candidates who are apprehensive about workplace discrimination may feel more comfortable when you publicly state your commitment to legal hiring practices.
Step 3: Write a meaningful inclusivity statement
What’s an even more effective than saying “We are an equal opportunity employer”? A statement written in your own words to express why your company is invested in fair and lawful hiring.
Here’s an example from IBM:
IBM is committed to creating a diverse environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status.
This one from Viacom is a little longer, with a little more insight:
Viacom is an equal opportunity employer.
Viacom recruits, employs, trains, compensates and promotes regardless of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, veteran status, and other protected status as required by applicable law.
At Viacom, we have a clear vision: to be the place where a diverse mix of talented people want to come, to stay and do their best work. We pride ourselves on bringing the best entertainment to our audiences around the world, and we know our company runs on the hard work and dedication of our passionate and creative employees.
Viacom’s dedication to promoting diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusion is clearly reflected in all of our content and across all of our brands. Diversity is more than a commitment at Viacom—it is the foundation of what we do. We are fully focused on equality and believe deeply in diversity of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, national origin and all the other fascinating characteristics that make us different. ”
Step 4: Check with your lawyer
Before you post your awesome new equal opportunity statement, run it by your company’s lawyer to make sure there are no red flags.
This is especially important because while federal law prohibits discrimination against specific groups, your state laws may have additional provisions. Your lawyer can help you stay up-to-date as laws change.
Step 5: Follow the law
More important than saying all of these things in your job listing, is actually following through on them. You have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
As your company’s HR representative, hiring manager or recruiter, it’s up to you to uphold the law when vetting job candidates.
Familiarize yourself with the all the details so you can make sure your company’s practices are up to speed. Here are a few resources to bookmark:
Once your new, improved and EEOC-compliant job listing is ready to go, post the position on Mediabistro’s job board to find your next great hire.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice.