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Educating the Public about Employment Discrimination

Photo of White House ConferenceBoth to prevent discrimination and to encourage voluntary compliance by employers, the Commission always has emphasized education, outreach, and technical assistance as mechanisms to provide information about Title VII. Early educational programs included a 1965 White House Conference on Equal Employment Opportunity, attended by 600 representatives of business, labor, government, and civil rights groups. Input from Conference workshops helped to shape early Commission guidelines and reporting requirements. During EEOC's first year of operation, commissioners and EEOC staff made nearly 600 speeches and other public presentations in 43 states. Indeed, during the next several years, EEOC continued to educate the public about the new law by providing thousands of presentations to civil rights and employer groups.

Excerpt from "Voice of La Raza"
Anthony Quinn in Voice of La Raza
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Education and outreach efforts during this time period included print and video media. For example, more than 100,000 copies of a pamphlet entitled "Equal Employment Opportunity is Good Business" were distributed to the public in 1966. Later, in 1971, an EEOC-sponsored film, "Voice of La Raza," narrated by film star Anthony Quinn, was made available and widely shown to the employer community, labor unions, and civil rights groups. The film dealt with unique job discrimination problems faced by 10 million Spanish-speaking Americans.

EEOC also conducted outreach and provided technical assistance to civil rights and employer groups by hosting seminars and conferences. In 1969, for example, EEOC hosted a conference on affirmative action techniques that was attended by more than 40 trade association representatives. A similar conference was held in 1971 that attracted 70 trade associations and professional organizations from a majority of the country's major industries. In 1970, in cooperation with the National Association of Manufacturers, EEOC held a nationwide closed circuit teleconference in which 2,800 employers received information on their legal obligations under Title VII. Finally, as one other means of providing technical assistance to employers to encourage voluntary compliance, EEOC instituted a "new plants program" and a follow up "area impact program." Together, these programs identified companies that were building or opening new facilities in communities of high minority population. In addition, they put their personnel staff in contact with local community groups that could refer job applicants for employment, including the NAACP, the Urban League, and the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Next: The 1970s

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