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Equal opportunity is a stipulation that all people should be treated similarly, unhampered by artificial barriers or prejudices or preferences.
The aim according to this often "complex and contested concept'' is that important jobs should go to those “most qualified” – persons most likely to perform ably in a given task – and not to go to persons for arbitrary or irrelevant reasons, such as circumstances of birth, upbringing, friendship ties to whoever is in power, religion, sex, ethnicity, race, or “involuntary personal attributes” such as disability, age, or sexual preferences.
In the classical sense, equality of opportunity is closely aligned with the concept of equality before the law and ideas of meritocracy.

Equal Employment Opportunity is about:
    • fair practices in the workplace;
    • management decisions being made without bias;
    • recognition and respect for the social and cultural backgrounds of all staff and customers;
    • employment practices which produce staff satisfaction, commitment to the job and the delivery of quality services to customers;
    • improving productivity by guaranteeing that:
    • the best person is recruited and/or promoted;
    • skilled staff are retained;
    • training and development are linked to employee needs and customer needs; and
    • the workplace is efficient and free of harassment and discrimination.

Background Information

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the concept assumes that society is stratified with a diverse range of roles, some of which are more desirable than others. And the benefit of equality of opportunity is to bring fairness to the selection process for coveted roles in corporations, associations, nonprofits, universities, and elsewhere. There is no "formal linking" between equality of opportunity and political structure, according to one view, in the sense that there can be equality of opportunity in democracies, autocracies, and in communist nations, although it is primarily associated with a competitive market economy and embedded within the legal frameworks of democratic societies.

The scope of equal opportunity has expanded to cover more than issues regarding the rights of minority groups, but covers practices regarding "recruitment, hiring, training, layoffs, discharge, recall, promotions, responsibility, wages, sick leave, vacation, overtime, insurance, retirement, pensions, and various other benefits."

The term is interrelated with and often contrasted with other conceptions of equality such as equality of outcome and equality of autonomy.

Principal Concepts

There are differing senses of what equality of opportunity is and related notions, with slight variations and nuances. What is common to most of the conceptions is that the individual is accountable when the race or examination or review begins, but senses of equality of opportunity differ most essentially on when the race should begin.

Formal equality of opportunity, sometimes referred to as the nondiscrimination principle or described as the absence of direct discrimination, or described in the narrow sense as equality of access,is characterized by:

  1. Open call. Positions bringing superior advantages should be open to all applicants; job openings should be publicized in advance giving applicants a "reasonable opportunity" to apply. Further, all applications should be accepted.
  2. Fair judging. Applications should be judged on their merits with procedures designed to identify those best-qualified. The evaluation of the applicant should be in accord with the duties of the position; for example, for the job opening of choir director, the evaluation may judge applicants based on musical knowledge rather than some arbitrary criterion such as hair color.
  3. An application is chosen. The applicant judged as "most qualified" is offered the position while others are not. There is agreement that the result of the process is again unequal, in the sense that one person has the position while another does not, but that this outcome is deemed fair on procedural grounds.


Substantive equality of opportunity

This term, sometimes called fair equality of opportunity, is a somewhat broader and more expansive concept than the more limiting formal equality of opportunity and it deals with what is sometimes described as indirect discrimination.

In the substantive approach, the starting point before the race begins is unfair, since people have had differing experiences before even approaching the competition. The substantive approach examines the applicants themselves before applying for a position, and judges whether they have equal abilities or talents, and if not, then it suggests that authorities (usually the government) take steps to make applicants more equal before they get to the point where they compete for a position, and fixing the before-the-starting-point issues has sometimes been described as working towards "fair access to qualifications." It seeks to remedy inequalities perhaps because of an "unfair disadvantage" based sometimes on "prejudice in the past."
According to John Hills, children of wealthy and well-connected parents usually have a decisive advantage over other types of children, and he notes that "advantage and disadvantage reinforce themselves over the life cycle, and often on to the next generation" so that successful parents pass along their wealth and education to succeeding generations, making it difficult for others to climb up a social ladder.

But so-called positive action efforts to bring an underprivileged person up to speed before a competition begins are limited to the period of time before the evaluation begins; at that point, the "final selection for posts must be made according to the principle the best person for the job," that is, a less qualified applicant should not be chosen over a more qualified applicant. And there are nuanced views too: one position suggested that the unequal results following a competition were unjust if caused by bad luck but just if chosen by the individual, and that weighing matters such as personal responsibility was important; this variant of the substantive model has sometimes been called luck egalitarianism. Still, regardless of the nuances, the overall idea is to give children from less fortunate backgrounds more of a chance, or to achieve at the beginning what some theorists call equality of condition.

Topic 1-2 etc

Federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws

I. What Are the Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination?

Current Issues

Issues in managing an equal opportunities policy in a devolved setting


  • Books

  • Journal Articles

  • Electronic Sources

21 noiembrie 2009.The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.Retrived 10 april 2012 from:
20 iunie 2005.Department of Attorney General and Justice. Retrived 22 mai 2012 from:
  • Images

Dennis Westlind;Tugofwar;Retrived December 12, 2008 from:
Tom Sulcer(photographer);Diagram of equal opportunity formal mode(Photograph);Retrieved 11 September 2011from:
Tom Sulcer(photographer);Diagram of equal opportunity formal mode(Photograph);Retrieved 11 September 2011from:
  • Video

YHD2007.9 mai 2007.For equal opportunitiea (v=ETe7OhWhoTU&feature=player_embedded) [Video file]. Retrived from:
YHD2007.9 mai 2007.For equal opportunitiea (v=AdZ0DSyz9ds&feature=player_embedded) [Video file]. Retrived from:


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