The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



WASHINGTON -- Continuing in its efforts of technical assistance, outreach, and education, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released the Task Force Report on "Best" Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Policies, Programs, and Practices in the Private Sector. The report, which is intended to offer assistance to all employers and especially to smaller and mid-sized companies, identifies "best" EEO practices of companies around the country and describes their approaches to address workplace discrimination issues.

As part of his ongoing effort to "reinvent" the agency, Chairman Gilbert F. Casellas appointed Commissioner Reginald E. Jones to chair the Task Force in February 1997. Chairman Casellas said, "The reforms at EEOC have always strived to place an emphasis on the importance of helping companies understand the anti-discrimination laws. The prevention of workplace discrimination is as vital to the work of the agency as any aspect of our enforcement."

The primary goal in researching "best" practices was to partner with all interested entities affected by EEOC operations (stakeholders) to examine EEO policies, programs, and practices. These "best" practices were looked at in way that could be useful to employers in structuring systems and policies consistent with the employers' business priorities as well as with their EEO obligations and diversity objectives. The Task Force also presented employers with the opportunity to showcase the initiatives of which they are particularly proud.

Commissioner Jones noted the significance of the report's findings for the business community. "This report will no doubt be of critical assistance to those smaller employers without human resources personnel and legal staffs, and will also be useful to larger employers who will gain helpful insight from their peers," he said.

The report identifies areas that the Task Force believes reasonably likely to assist the business community and employees and employee groups in facilitating EEO policies, programs, and practices.

The Task Force divided its focus among seven factor groupings: Recruitment and Hiring; Promotion and Career Advancement; Terms and Conditions; Termination and Downsizing; Alternative Dispute Resolution; Management Commitment and Accountability; and Other (policies, programs, or practices not readily identifiable in the previous six groups or where there is an overlap between or among groups).

Companies with noteworthy EEO activities are identified and the applicable policies, programs, and practices are described in each of the seven groupings. Brief summaries of almost all company activities submitted to the Task Force for each factor grouping are set forth in the report.

The Task Force also selected a number of companies that it thought presented noteworthy, comprehensive EEO programs, addressing most, if not all, of the seven specific factor groupings set forth for discussion. In addition, the report discusses noteworthy partnership arrangements and other types of collaborative efforts involving employers and other groups in achieving EEO worksite objectives. These partnerships involved a host of players, including government agencies, consultants, schools, individual volunteers, and non-profit organizations.

The Task Force believes there are some exciting and innovative initiatives being offered. As the Task Force's work progressed, it also became clear that a number of companies had done noteworthy work in formulating comprehensive EEO and diversity strategies. Commissioner Jones commented on the importance of companies in integrating workplace EEO and diversity into their basic business plan, stating: "The increasing diversity of the national and global business environment suggests that employers are considering a multicultural workforce as a business asset and, more likely, a business necessity."

In recognizing the Task Force report to be an early step in an ongoing process of formulating a close working relationship with the business community, the Commission also recognizes that regulatory, policy, and operational changes may be necessary to facilitate "best" practices. There were a number of recommendations to enhance information sharing between the Commission and its stakeholders. For example, the Task Force encourages a comprehensive and speedy review of Volume II of EEOC's Compliance Manual, with input from external stakeholders in close coordination with the Commission staff; expanding and enhancing coordination of Commission technical assistance, education, and outreach; and using settlement agreements and/or consent decrees to facilitate "best" practices.

The text of the Task Force report will be available on EEOC's web site at shortly after the release of the document. You can also obtain a copy by writing to EEOC's Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs, 1801 L Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20507.

EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

This page was last modified on December 22, 1997.

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