Diversity in the workplace is often associated with the phrase “Equal opportunity”. Equal opportunity (EO) strives to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace in order to reap the following benefits: more productivity among employees, higher morale in the workplace, higher staff retention, reducing complaints and the time involved in resolving them and making the company more appealing to employees.
The Need for Equal Opportunity
With globalization being the overwhelming trend of businesses nowadays, companies are finding it hard not to jump onto the bandwagon. In joining the thrusts for globalization, it is important for companies to take into consideration some key elements necessary for their business, particularly the legal structures of the country they operate in.
Issues such as equal opportunity often come into play as they face the formidable task of hiring and retaining employees from other countries.
According to Guy Russo, McDonald’s CEO, “commitment to equal opportunity makes good business sense because it ensures a company attracts and retains the best people. EO policy also provides confidence to employees that they will be treated fairly and receive equal access to opportunities.”
Equal opportunity intends to create an environment where people are not excluded from activities on the basis of traits such as race, disabilities, creed, religion, gender and others. Equal opportunity enables employees similar access to education, employment and health care. Also, employers are required to implement action plans that allow participation of minorities and women in the workplace.
Affirmative Action Plan
Equal opportunity is often incorporated in the Affirmative Action Plan. Affirmative action pertains to the steps undertaken to represent women and minorities in employment, education and business.
Affirmative action plans often require provision of an equal opportunity policy statement, analysis of the current workforce, recognition of problem areas, creating goals and timetables for employment opportunities, particular action programs to address problem areas, promote community action programs, and creating an effective internal audit and reporting system.
To indicate that an employer practices equal employment opportunity, abbreviations such EOE or MFDV (or Male, Female, Disabled, Veteran) are added in job advertisements. Equal opportunity as a matter of fact is difficult to measure. Ideally, equal opportunity in employment is considered to be present if people of similar abilities achieve similar results after doing a similar amount of work. But this does not often happen in the real world.
Equal opportunity is an important factor to consider particularly in international businesses where the legal, ethical and social responsibility structure of the company are deemed crucial aspects to attain growth and success.