Equal Opportunity Officer

The Fight for Equality and Diversity: Career as an Equal Opportunity Officer

  • Oct 19, 2021

In today’s times, equality is an extremely important concept, and laws have been passed to keep it at the forefront of employment policies.

If you're interested in a career focusing on equality, diversity, and ethics, you may consider becoming an equal employment opportunity (EEO) officer. An EEO officer's primary goal is to promote fairness and equality in the workplace by informing companies about current EEO laws and helping employees solve discrimination challenges.

The demand for Equal Opportunity Representatives and Officers has seen a significant increase in the last couple of years. The timing coincides with the rise of recent nationwide protests as companies began to express their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and publicly make promises to fight for equality in and outside of the workplace. 

A diverse group of employees—in race, ethnicity, age, gender, physical ability, religion, sexual orientation, life experiences, and others—can benefit a company in a multitude of ways. So as companies continue to focus on making their teams more diverse and inclusive, hiring will continue to surge for recruiters, leaders, and managers that can help carry that mission forward. 


What is an EEO officer? 

Equal employment opportunity (EEO) officers are human resources leaders who promote unbiased treatment for both current and potential employees. 

Depending on the industry they work with and the needs of a particular workplace, an EEO officer might also be referred to as an equal opportunity officer, affirmative action officer, civil rights representative, diversity, equity, and inclusion specialist, or diversity and inclusion manager.

They typically support people based on the following legally protected characteristics:

  1. Race or skin color
  2.  Ethnicity or national origin
  3. Religion or creed
  4. Age
  5. Sex or gender identity
  6. Sexual orientation
  7. Medical background
  8. Disability status
  9. Marital status 

While they typically work in government, healthcare, technology, or manufacturing, the law requires EEO compliance in every industry, meaning EEO officers may seek to work with companies and corporations that suit their interests.


What does an EEO officer do?

EEO officers strive to establish positive, non-discriminatory work environments by providing support, such as education, legal advice, and conflict resolution. They maintain a fair, legally compliant connection between people and the companies they work for. 

  1. Investigate employment practices or alleged violations of laws to document and correct discriminatory factors.
  2. Prepare reports related to investigations of equal opportunity complaints.
  3. Study equal opportunity complaints to clarify issues.
  4. Interpret civil rights laws and equal opportunity regulations for individuals or employers.
  5. Arbitrate and settle disputes regarding equal opportunity complaints.
  6. Monitoring the implementation and impact of guidelines for non-discriminatory employment practices.
  7. Prepare reports of selection, survey, or other statistics and recommendations for collective action. 


Communication is key

The job responsibilities of an Equal Opportunities Officer often require them to have distinct interpersonal skills, including:

  1.  Filing formal EEO complaints on employees' behalf
  2.  Leading EEO discussions between the parties in disagreement
  3.  Informing staff about upcoming EEO events or new policies
  4.  Providing preventative training activities
  5.  Writing guides and checklists for companies to ensure fair hiring practices
  6.  Analyzing employee feedback and using it to implement new EEO policies

Further, having strong ethical principles and problem-solving skills are key factors in succeeding as an EEO officer. 


Educational Requirement

While employers may not require a specific major, EEO officers often obtain a degree in fields such as Psychology, Social work, Sociology, Multicultural studies, and Gender studies. 

Courses in law are also beneficial because EEO officers require an in-depth knowledge of current civil rights law to help companies with legal compliance.

Since employers consider an EEO officer to be a managerial role, some may require a master's degree, especially a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Other employers may simply look for managerial experience.

To begin your EEO officer career, consider becoming a human resource (HR) representative. A company's HR department may provide on-the-job training for some tasks an EEO officer encounters, which can develop your conflict resolution skills, educate you on current EEO policies and help you advance your career.

Do you want to know more about making the right choice for your college and career?
Book a Free One-on-One consultation with a career expert.

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