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:
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.
Communication is key
The job responsibilities of an Equal Opportunities Officer often require them to have distinct interpersonal skills, including:
Further, having strong ethical principles and problem-solving skills are key factors in succeeding as an EEO officer.
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.