Thank you to the 15,000+ people who read my 10 Samples of an Effective EEO Statement. Let’s dig deeper into the readability of EEO statements!
Did you see how an effective job ad should be written at the 8th grade or lower? Were you as surprised as me at the power of writing in Plain English for busy candidates. Wow.
The same goes for your EEO Statement — the more readable the better. Yes, there are laws about what goes into an EEO Statement (you can see Solicitations of advertisements for employees).
You might think that your legal team is the only one who reads your EEO Statement. But candidates read them too. These days, every audience (perhaps outside of white males!) is wondering if you’ll support them.
Your EEO Statement is your place to shine (or at least not screw it up).
And us white men are looking at EEO Statements too. If your EEO Statement sounds like it’s written by a conservative lawyer, then I’m thinking you’re a conservative company (see GM below).
Here are some of my tips based on looking at 2 randomly-picked large EEO Statements:
GM’s EEO Statement
Let’s look at General Motors’ EEO Statement for the US and Canda
The policy of General Motors is to extend opportunities to qualified applicants and employees on an equal basis regardless of an individual’s age, race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression or veteran status. Additionally, General Motors is committed to being an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer and offers opportunities to all job seekers including individuals with disabilities. If you need a reasonable accommodation to assist with your job search or application for employment, email us at Careers.Accommodations@GM.com . In your email, please include a description of the specific accommodation you are requesting as well as the job title and requisition number of the position for which you are applying
The Ongig Text Analyzer shows this to be at the 16th grade level (meaning post-graduate).
- “Policy” — Starting with the words “The Policy” sets a tone of a conservative company. Unless GM wants only conservative candidates (based on their cool “Autonomous Vehicles” business unit, I’m pretty sure they don’t!), then they should avoid mentioning “policy” in their EEO. They don’t need to. Just begin with “We extend opportunities to…”
- Hard first sentence — The first sentence is 38 words. They could easily begin with fewer words (which is more readable) like: “We extend offers to all qualified candidates.” 10 words. A bit easier start, right?
- Fewer sentences in the paragraph — GM uses 5 sentences in the paragraph. 2 to 3 sentences per paragraph is optimal for readability.
- Hard words — GM has too many multi-syllable words. They have 11 words with more than 4 syllables. Did you know that dyslexic people have trouble reading words with just 3 or more syllables? A word like “accommodation” (they use it 3 times in one paragraph!). Their line that reads “If you need a reasonable accommodation to assist with your job search…” could be replaced by “If we can assist you with your job search…”
Coca-Cola’s EEO Statement
Now, let’s look at Coke’s EEO:
We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, status as a veteran, and basis of disability or any other federal, state or local protected class.
Ongig’s Text Analyzer software gives that section a readability score of the 22nd grade level. That means that’s written for a post-post-post graduate degree level person. Trust me: not even a Stephen Hawking wants to read at that level.
- Coke might want to break up this paragraph. Right now it’s one 50-word sentence. The ideal readable sentence is about 8 to 13 words. Coke could break this giant sentence into 3 or 4 sentences if they want to keep all that text.
- They could also use far fewer words (see below on an example I give).
Here’s my recommendation for how to rewrite your own EEO Statement:
- Use just 2 (or 3 at the most) sentences for your paragraph.
- Try to average 8 to 13 words per sentence.
- Keep your words to 2 or fewer syllables unless required (your attorneys may insist that you use the exact phrase “Equal Opportunity Employer” for EEOC compliance (some attorneys will let you by with just saying “EEO” or “EOE”).
- Don’t throw in the kitchen sink of types of people you accept (age, race, color, religion, sexuality, gender identity, etc.) — where will it end!?
When you write you EEO Statement, I recommend you start simple:
We are an Equal Opportunity Employer. We welcome people from all walks of life as long as you get the job done!
Then, if you think you need to add anything, have a spirited debate. Perhaps you want to mention more about your values. Then, run it by the most progressive attorney on your legal team. 🙂
I researched and wrote this article because Ongig’s Text Analyzer tool analyzes all of your job descriptions for readability as well as gender-bias, positive sentiment and much more. We even have a copywriting team to rewrite your job descriptions.
Please reach out if you’d like us to analyze your EEO Statement or complete job descriptions!