Embracing Diversity, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), and Affirmative Action (AA) are three components of the Office of Access, Equity and Equal Opportunity’s (AEEO) work toward creating an equitable workplace for its employees. Equity in the Workplace is characterized by:
- A diverse, productive workforce
- A more equitable and accessible work environment
- An inclusive environment where all employees are valued
- A work environment free from discrimination
- A level playing field for employee success
Inherent to our mission of being an institution that is committed to diversity, we must also be an accessible and equitable one. At Rice, we recognize that equity involves the promotion of justice, impartiality and fairness within the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources within our organization. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our communities and fostering an environment where everyone - regardless of their race, country of origin, age, ability, gender or any aspect of their identity – has a level playing field.
Although there is overlap between Diversity, EEO, and AA, they refer generally to three different areas of activity.
Embracing Diversity refers to a comprehensive organizational strategy for developing an environment that maximizes the potential of all employees by valuing the differences among them. At Rice, we embrace diversity when we demonstrate our value for our entire community which means that we value each individual’s participation, contribution and, most of all, their choice to be here. Our commitment to diversity means that it is our mandate to put every member of our community into the position to thrive here.
An approach that embraces diversity:
- Develops an environment that maximizes the potential of all employees by valuing diversity, interpersonally and institutionally
- Includes categories broader than those addressed by Affirmative Action (ethnicity, race, gender, disabled status and veteran status) compliance
Equal Opportunity is a term used by the federal government to refer to employment practices that ensure nondiscrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental ability, religion, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, pregnancy, genetic information, veteran status or age. The principle behind EEO is that everyone should have the same access to opportunities in the workplace.
- Eliminates discrimination in human resource policies and practices
- Provides equal access and opportunity - no one excluded from participation
EEO is legally mandated for Rice University due to the University's status as a federal contractor.
Affirmative Action is one aspect of the federal government's efforts to ensure equal employment opportunity for minorities, women, veterans, and individuals with disabilities. It encompasses:
- Good faith efforts to remedy underutilization,
- Widespread and diverse outreach in the recruitment process
- Job-related criteria with minimal adverse or exclusionary impact, and
- Fair evaluation of all job applicants.
As a federal contractor, Rice University develops and monitors a program to help eliminate the effects of past and present discrimination. Affirmative action is a process in which employers identify potential areas of improvement, set goals, and take positive steps to advance opportunities for women, racial minorities, protected veterans, and individuals with disabilities. Affirmative action focuses on hiring, training, and promoting qualified protected class members where they are underrepresented.
Rice University prepares annual Affirmative Action Plans in accordance with state and federal law. The University’s Affirmative Action Plans for individuals with a disability and for protected veterans can be accessed, pursuant to applicable law, by contacting AEEO.