According to a new report, in 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took significant strides against systemic discrimination. All in all, the agency states that this was a year of robust action and impactful outcomes. Overall, the EEOC’s Fiscal Year 2023 Agency Financial Report (AFR) sheds light on its financial management and key performance results. The agency made the report public on November 15th, 2023. Earlier, in September 2023, the EEOC released its 2024-2028 Strategic Enforcement Plan.
A Closer Look at Systemic Discrimination
In brief, systemic discrimination refers to policies, practices, or patterns found in the operations of major social institutions. These areas include workplaces, schools, and government bodies. Specifically, it can result in less favorable outcomes for individuals based on race, gender, age, disability, or other characteristics. Unlike individual acts of discrimination driven by personal prejudice or bias, it is often subtle. Sooner or later, this discrimination can create inequality and exclusion, often without explicit malicious intent.
Doubling Down on Systemic Discrimination
Firstly, the EEOC’s strategic focus in 2023 was clear: combat discrimination with all available tools. Specifically, these tools included outreach, education, technical assistance, and enforcement. In addition, the agency doubled its efforts against systemic discrimination. The result was filing nearly twice the number of systemic lawsuits compared to the past three fiscal years. Markedly, this move signaled a solid commitment to maximizing impact and addressing widespread discriminatory practices. Explicitly, the EEOC’s enforcement efforts include equal employment opportunity (EEO) protections for all protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and other federal EEO laws.
Achievements and Monetary Gains
Furthermore, the EEOC’s pursuit of its mission led to significant monetary benefits for workers. The agency bolstered its focus on advancing equal employment opportunities by preventing and remedying unlawful employment discrimination. Given that, this achievement aligns with the EEOC’s longstanding dedication to fairness and justice in the workplace.
Excellence in Financial Management
Additionally, for the 19th consecutive year, independent auditors gave the EEOC an “unmodified opinion.” An “unmodified opinion” reflects sound financial management and internal controls within a federal government agency. Indeed, this consistency underscores the agency’s commitment to responsible and transparent operations.
Reflection and Renewed Focus
Within the report, EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows highlighted key national civil rights milestones. For example, Chair Burrows included commentary on the anniversaries of the 1963 March on Washington, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Burrows notes these milestones as reminders of progress and the journey ahead in fulfilling equality for workers.
Expanding Efforts and Priorities
Meanwhile, in fiscal year 2023, the EEOC broadened its focus, addressing various aspects of workplace fairness. From tackling workplace harassment and advancing racial justice, the agency’s scope was comprehensive. The EEOC also tackled promoting pay equity and fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). Finally, the agency responded to emerging challenges like technology in employment decisions and implemented the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA).
Responding to Increased Demand
Lastly, the EEOC’s success in 2023 was partly due to its strengthened enforcement capacity. With a surge in public demand for its services, the agency boosted its front-line staff by more than 330 positions. Chiefly, this expansion was vital in addressing the 10% increase in calls and 25% increase in emails to the agency.
In conclusion, with investigations surrounding systemic discrimination on the rise, employers must actively engage in preventing it from happening. Here are vital actions employers, managers, and supervisors can take to avoid such events from occurring:
- Education and Training: Regularly conduct training sessions to educate employees about discrimination and its implications.
- Policy Review: Review and update workplace policies to ensure they align with current laws and best practices.
- Inclusive Recruitment: Implement unbiased recruitment strategies to promote diversity.
- Open Communication: Encourage open dialogue about discrimination and provide safe channels for reporting concerns.
- Regular Audits: Conduct periodic audits of workplace practices to identify and address discrimination.