What is Equal Employment Opportunity?

Just as it sounds, equal employment opportunity (EEO) refers to the standard that all people, regardless of gender, race, age, disability etc. have a right to be fairly considered for a job and job benefits. EEO standards are important to implement in small businesses to avoid poor workplace culture and negative consequences for non-compliance with EEO standards.

In an attempt to achieve equality amongst all, the practical issue of being able to satisfy all different needs persistently exists. Barriers not so obvious to employers can include; the accessibility of buildings, ability to use equipment etc. Although familiar with many, it is simple facilities like these that can practically and emotionally affect others of difference. Equal opportunity in the workplace can require positive changes in the workplace culture. This can demand a reasonable adjustment to workplace environments.

The Laws Protecting Discrimination

The federal parliament has passed numerous laws aiming to protect people from discrimination and breaches of human rights in the workplace and beyond. These include;

  • The Age Discrimination Act 2004
  • The Disability Discrimination Act 1992
  • The Racial Discrimination Act 1975
  • The Sex Discrimination Act 1984

Importantly the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) bears the responsibility under the above key legislations. Under the key legislations the AHRC has the power to investigate any complaints of alleged discrimination and breaches of human rights under these laws. Despite the implementation of all the above laws and the power of the AHRC to investigate claims, EEO practitioner Dr Sev Ozdowski has said that evidence of EEO in the workplace is not all that great. He says that people living with a disability for example, are still having ten times the unemployment rate.

Still Unsure about the standards or solutions for EEO? Take a look at LawPath’s Discrimination Policy or LawPath’s Harassment and Bullying Policy to understand policies against discrimination in the workplace.

Practical Advice and Tips

Something in which the legislation commonly fails to do is to adequately cater for the needs and wants of all differences in the workplace. By having a supportive management team who supports organisational change, it is more likely that values of EEO and diversity will be better entrenched.

It can also be effective to review workplace policies and procedures in order to identify any potential barriers currently existing. This could be simply done by renewing recruitment policies, flexible working arrangements, and endorsing inclusive work practices.

Another great way is to source employee information. This could be completed through maintaining your staff database, undertaking a staff survey and comparing yourself against other businesses in seeing what they do.

Unsure where to start? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or any other legal needs.

Brodie Nettleton

Brodie is a paralegal at LawPath working in our content team, which works to provide free legal guides to enhance public access to legal resources. With a keen interest in Criminal and IP Law, her research focuses on small businesses, and how they can better navigate complex legal procedures.