Equal Opportunity Employer?

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Several months ago, while searching for a job, I came across a company, which had placed an advertisement for copywriters and proofreaders. Since I could apply online, I emailed them my resume and cover letter. The following day, I was glad to see they had replied. However, upon reading their message, my enthusiasm dwindled. They had asked me to fill out a “voluntary” survey – a questionnaire about my race and gender. Because the company had claimed to be an “equal opportunity employer,” I provided the requested information and returned it. I never heard from the company again. Being an African American woman, filling out those surveys has always made me leery. And this particular situation struck me as odd. So I looked over my resume – thinking there was some information on it, which had caused the potential employer to reject me so quickly without even offering an interview. During my perusal, I realized I had included the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) on my resume, which I had attended my freshman year. Although I have always been proud of the fact I have followed in the footsteps of many prominent African Americans by having attended a historically black university, I suddenly wondered if this part of my background had hindered me. Not from getting a job, but for consideration of one. This prompted me to remove the HBCU from my resume. But that lapse in judgment did not last long at all. I came to the conclusion that any company that refused to judge me on my knowledge, experience and education is not one I need to work for anyhow. In 1964, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission was created. Since then, most companies have waved the banner for diversity in the workplace. But actions speak louder than words. Much louder. I remember when I had once worked a temporary job at Fisk University. That day, there had been a discussion among well-educated and successful Africans Americans about the difficulties they had encountered during their initial search for a career. One man incredulously explained how he had once been told by a major corporation he was not qualified to be an engineer, even though he had degrees and experience as one. Many popular African American magazines frequently compile a list of companies that rank high in diversity. This information is very helpful. Therefore, should an individual ever apply to one of these companies and are asked to fill out the “voluntary” survey, requesting information about race and gender, he or she can rest assured this company does more than pay lip service to equal opportunity employment. Nowadays, I proudly check every box which applies to me.

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  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks for the great comments!@nicki - You're right, networking is always going to carry more weight than a form. Do you think that the increased use of social media makes it easier for employers to discourage diversity?@Shelia - Thanks for taking the time to comment. Don't give up, eventually you'll find the right job for you. Not every company would overlook a qualified applicant. Also, with online resumes and social profiles, check your privacy settings to ensure that they are giving you the security you want.
  • nicki
    those forms that let you id with a particular race is just the beginning. your social networking profiles and contacts are going to validate and tell more info
  • Sheila Entenman
    Sheila Entenman
    Just replying to the "Equal Opportunity Employer" writeup by Tanya Hodges.  I agree with her totally. My background is (Scott, English, Swedish) and I have applied for many positions including government jobs.  The equal opportunity employer forms weed out people of race, color, creed, and age.  There is age and race discrimination everywhere. I have problems with both.  My complaint is age discrimination majorly.  I started my career late in life.  The higer paying jobs are being given to younger people with less experience. I have the experience for the same position and I am told I do not qualify. It does not compute. I have been passed over for many positions for which I qualify for.  However, I will not give up because I have diversified skills and experience that is relevant and transferable to numerable positions.  I know there is a business out there looking for someone just like me.  They are out there but they are advertising as CONFIDENTIAL and losing out on qualified people.  I do not waste time to apply for a lot of confidential job postings if they only give skimpy information on the type of company and skimpy details of the job description.  I want to know who I am going to work for and be prepared for an interview rather than be in the dark and receive a phone call from someone who states they are from a specific company and I do not recall applying with them.  That is considered (in my book) unprofessional.  And one more thing which irritates me as an unemployed person looking for work...is a phone call from someone who saw my resume online and they say they have a position open...I never applied for their position (scam artists)! There ought to be a law against that.

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