Drawing of a scale with pencils surrounding it
All stories

How to craft a sincere equal opportunity employer statement

An equal opportunity employer statement, or EEO statement, is a written declaration of non-discrimination from an organization. It communicates to employees, candidates, and the public that as a company, you’re committed to providing an equal opportunity to all and will rely only on “the facts, not the faces” to make hiring and advancement decisions.

An EEO statement is required of all federal contractors, but is optional for other employers. (Of course, it’s not optional to comply with anti-discrimination laws, for anyone.)

What does it mean to say equal opportunity employer?

It can be confusing to read “equal opportunity employer” and also “EEO statement.” It seems like it should be “EOE” right? It’s because EEO stands for “equal employment opportunity.” So to communicate that you’re an equal opportunity employer, you publish an equal employment opportunity (EEO) statement. Not especially straightforward but now you know! And though it’s technically incorrect, the terms and initialisms are often used interchangeably.

Are EEO statements required on job descriptions?

There’s no law requiring an equal opportunity employer statement in job posts or job descriptions, but it’s still a good idea. For one thing, if you’re committed to equal opportunity as an organization, you should highlight it to candidates! But also: Data shows it actually makes hiring easier.

Textio has found that a job post with even a basic EEO statement will fill 6% faster on average than one without an EEO statement. Not that you should settle for basic. In general, the more thoughtful your EEO language, the better your chances of engaging more candidates, building a more diverse talent pipeline, and ultimately hiring the best folks for your team.

How do you write an equal opportunity statement?

If you’re struggling to take your company’s EEO statement from mundane to meaningful, try using these insights and examples to craft a more intentional commitment.

1. Cut the formal legalese

While the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does require companies to post (physically and/or virtually) a notice of federal employment discrimination laws, it doesn’t specify that they need to put a statement in job listings. Many companies choose to, but often they simply translate their legal obligations to disclaimer-type footnotes. A lot of them read as if they were drafted by the same contract lawyers.

To understand why so many EEO statements sound the same, let’s take a brief look at the history of equal opportunity employment laws and regulations.

The landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 established the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an agency protecting U.S. employees from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin (officially, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964). Since then, protected classes have been expanded to include age, disability, military history, family history and genetic information, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

This language is probably immediately recognizable to you—because it’s used, virtually unedited, in so many EEO statements. Beyond the required public notice, employers are free to communicate their commitment to non-discrimination however they please. They should be writing their EEO statements for the sake of the reader, not for the sake of compliance. But many don’t take that opportunity.

If you were considering applying for a role at Amazon, for example, you’d find this EEO at the end of the job posting: “Amazon is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. Amazon is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, protected veteran status, disability, age, or other legally protected status. For individuals with disabilities who would like to request an accommodation, please visit https://www.amazon.jobs/en/disability/us.”

Yawn. When companies write equal opportunity employer statements that seem like they’re just copy-pasting language, it feels insincere and makes you wonder how committed they really are. Candidates want to know why your company values diversity and inclusion—and the answer should be better than “the government’s forcing us to.”

Also, consider adopting a casual tone in your statement. Compliance-heavy legalese always comes across as insincere, while conversational language can convey authenticity. Pinterest does this well: “We’re looking for all kinds of people. To build an app that’s used and loved by people all around the world, we need a team with all kinds of different perspectives, experiences and backgrounds.” They follow this immediately with “To put it legally: Pinterest is an equal opportunity employer and makes employment decisions on the basis of merit…” and continue on with all the specifics.

2. Say it like you mean it

If you want your company’s equal opportunity employer statement to sound like it came from the heart rather than the legal department, write it in first person. Addressing the reader directly makes the message more personal.

Consider this stiff, third-person EEO statement from IBM’s job posts: “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, pregnancy, disability, age, veteran status, or other characteristics. IBM is also committed to compliance with all fair employment practices regarding citizenship and immigration status.”

Compare that to this first-person, purpose-driven statement that Cisco Meraki adds under the standard legalese: “At Cisco Meraki, we’re challenging the status quo with the power of diversity, inclusion, and collaboration. When we connect different perspectives, we can imagine new possibilities, inspire innovation, and release the full potential of our people. We’re building an employee experience that includes appreciation, belonging, growth, and purpose for everyone.”

Of those two, which one sounds like it was written for humans, by humans?

If it’s authentic for your org, it can also be a good idea to express a sincere appreciation for diversity in general, beyond your team. Google’s EEO shares their value of diversity with celebratory language: “At Google, we don’t just accept difference—we celebrate it, we support it, and we thrive on it for the benefit of our employees, our products and our community. Google is proud to be an equal opportunity workplace and is an affirmative action employer.”

Cedars-Sinai adds a separate Diversity and Inclusion statement to precede their EEO: “We are caretakers and innovators committed to the pursuit of equitable healthcare. But health equity is not possible without representation. Our commitment to diversity goes beyond demographics or checking boxes. Our people must reflect the diverse identities, experiences and geographies of the communities and patients we serve – because that’s what our patients, colleagues and communities deserve.”

3. Make it about culture, not business

It can be tempting to emphasize the “business case” for diversity in your equal opportunity employer statement. You know diverse teams perform better and want to show that you recognize that. You may even already have your “business case for diversity” documented in writing somewhere, and think it would make sense to pull that into your EEO language. It does make sense—but it isn’t a great move.

When you really think about it, do you actually want to be making a business case for diversity? “We care about being fair and inclusive, because it helps our bottom line.” Oof. No, that’s not it.

At the same time, don’t overemphasize that it’s “the right thing to do.” That makes it sound like it’s a big burden or charity case, and that’s probably not the tone you’re going for either.

Try instead to focus on the culture you’re creating. You don’t have to avoid talking about work—you’re a workplace, after all, and candidates are evaluating you as a place they can do good work—but you don’t want to sound like profits are the motive or that equal employment is something you should be applauded for ensuring.

We’ve tried to strike the right balance in our own equal opportunity employer statement. An excerpt: “Textio embraces diversity and equal opportunity in a serious way. We are committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and skills. The more inclusive we are, the better our work will be.”

Sample EEO statement

You should make your EEO statement your own, tailored to your org’s brand and values. But it’s always helpful to have a reference as a starting point—so let’s look at a good example.

This is Greenhouse’s full EEO statement, shown here in the Textio editor for employer brand content:

Textio analysis of Greenhouse's EEO statement

Green(house) is good. What you’re seeing here is a good deal of multicultural and growth-mindset language, both of which are shown to make employer brand content, including EEO statements, more inclusive. Think about what inclusive phrasing you could pull into your EEO that’s authentic to your company.

Everyone can appreciate a good equal opportunity employer statement

Textio data has long confirmed that applicants from all demographic groups are less likely to apply for jobs that don’t include an equal opportunity statement. But going beyond boilerplate language to craft a more meaningful version can have an even greater impact on your hiring. Don't rely on corporate legalese to convey your commitments—show candidates, through more thoughtful language, that you have real intention around diversity.

If you’re worried you don’t have the writing skills to match the examples above, consider DEI language software. Textio can offer guidance when drafting your EEO statement, including feedback on its effectiveness and help in choosing language that aligns with your inclusive values.

An equal opportunity employer statement is a way of articulating your company’s commitment to diversity. Textio can help ensure that every candidate gets the message.

All stories
Get stories like these delivered right to your inbox.