Equal Employment Opportunity Hiring Policy


What It Is

Equal employment opportunity (EEO) policies help ensure that employees are hired on the basis of their ability to perform a job, rather than discriminated against on the basis of factors such as race, color, age, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran status, religion, marital status, or mental or physical disability.

Why It Matters

Equal opportunity policies ensure that all people are treated with dignity and contribute to a society in which individuals are rewarded on the basis of hard work and ability. Additionally, equal opportunity contributes to a diverse and inclusive workforce where a variety of views and perspectives are heard, which can strengthen, enrich, and contribute to the creativity of an organization. Moreover, many forms of discrimination are illegal and can lead to costly legal battles, from both a financial and reputation perspective.

Getting Started

Below, please find the federal laws related to equal opportunity. Review the federal and state guidelines to which your organization is subject, and ensure that you are following the law. Even if federal and state laws don’t apply to you due to the number of people you employ, they can be viewed as guidelines.

Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)

What It Says: Prohibits race, color, religion, sex, and national origin discrimination. Sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination are also prohibited.

Who It Applies To: Employers with fifteen or more employees.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act

What It Says: Prohibits age discrimination against individuals who are forty years of age or older.

Who It Applies To: Employers with twenty or more employees.

Americans with Disabilities Act

What It Says: Prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities.

Who It Applies To: Employers with fifteen or more employees.

Equal Pay Act

What It Says: Prohibits wage discrimination between men and women who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions within the same establishment.

Who It Applies To: Most employers with one or more employees.

Civil Rights Act of 1991

What It Says: Provides monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination.

Who It Applies To: Employers with fifteen or more employees.

Going Further

Draft an equal employment opportunity statement or policy for your organization. For example, Starbucks’ policy states:

Starbucks Coffee Company is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, veteran status, gender identity or expression, or any other basis protected by local, state or federal law.

This policy applies with regard to all aspects of one’s employment, including hiring, transfer, promotion, compensation, eligibility for benefits and termination.

For another example, Northrup Grumman’s equal opportunity can be viewed here.

After your written policy has been drafted and approved, include it in your employee manual and hiring materials.

Advanced Steps

Publicize your policy or statement on your website. Appoint a trusted employee to be the liaison and contact person for equal employment.

Consider reviewing your supply chain as well, taking steps to ensure that equal opportunity is respected in your supply chain. Implement a sustainable purchasing policy that includes a commitment to equal opportunity principles.


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website has basic information for small businesses as well as a list of liaisons that may be contacted for more information at a city level.

The Small Business Administration website provides employment discrimination and harassment an overview and guidelines for compliance.


Equal Opportunity: The process of hiring employees based on their ability to perform a job, rather than discriminating on the basis of factors such as race, color, age, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran status, religion, marital status or mental or physical disability.

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