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Top Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the difference between equal employment opportunity and affirmative action?
  2. What is an Affirmative Action Plan?
  3. What is an Affirmative Action Program?
  4. For whom is affirmative action taken?
  5. Does affirmative action require quotas?
  6. What is underutilization?
  7. What constitutes "good faith effort" to address underutilization?
  8. Does affirmative action require goals?
  9. What happens if the University does not meet its placement goals?
  10. Does affirmative action require a federal contractor to hire a less-qualified applicant to meet a placement goal?
  1. What is the difference between equal employment opportunity and affirmative action?

    Equal employment opportunity prohibits discrimination against anyone. Its primary objective is to ensure that all applicants and employees, regardless of their protected characteristics (color, race, religion, sex, etc.) have a fair opportunity in the hiring process and in competing for promotions and have equal access to educational training and professional development opportunities. Equal employment opportunity is a passive principle which requires only fairness in treatment.

    Affirmative action goes beyond non-discrimination. Whereas equal opportunity is passive, affirmative action is positive, constructive action. The general premise underlying affirmative action is that absent discrimination, over time an employer's workforce, generally, will reflect the gender, racial, and national origin/ethnicity profile of the labor pools from which the employer recruits and hires its employees. Affirmative action attempts to compensate for past discriminatory practices by requiring federal contractors to engage in "good faith efforts" to expand outreach and recruitment of women, minorities, persons with disabilities and certain protected veterans, thereby making them aware of employment opportunities and providing access to be able to pursue such opportunities.

  2. What is an Affirmative Action Plan?

    An Affirmative Action Plan is a written document containing information and analyses of a federal contractor's workforce. The Affirmative Action Plan is comprised of four sections: the Utilization Analysis, the Workforce Analysis; the Goal and Timetables; and the Narrative. The first three sections include employee data, national census data and faculty availability data. This data is used to analyze the demographics of the University's workforce in relation to the demographics of qualified and available individuals in the relevant labor pool (local, regional, etc.). This data is used to determine what group(s) are underutilized in a given job group and to establish placement goals to address the underutilization. The plan's narrative details problem areas that may impede or limit opportunities in all job groups at all levels of the organization, as well as the University's commitment and efforts to remedy these inequities and remove barriers.

  3. What is an Affirmative Action Program?

    An Affirmative Action Program is a management tool designed to ensure equal employment opportunity. It includes the policies, practices and procedures the University implements to address underutilization in its workforce and to ensure that all qualified applicants and employees receive an equal opportunity for recruitment, retention, selection, advancement, training, development and every other condition and privilege of employment.

  4. For whom is affirmative action taken?

    The University must undertake affirmative action for minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and covered veterans. The analyses in an Affirmative Action Plan, however, cover only minorities and women.

  5. Does affirmative action require quotas?

    No, using quotas for employment decisions are illegal. Rather, an Affirmative Action Plan contains placement goals to assist the employer in addressing any existing underutilization of women and minorities in its workforce.

  6. What is underutilization?

    Underutilization exists when fewer women and minorities are employed in job groups than would be expected, given their availability (with the requisite skills to perform the job) in the relevant labor pools.

  7. What constitutes "good faith effort" to address underutilization?

    Federal contractors must:

    • identify and remove barriers that negatively affect underutilized groups;
    • support inclusion through respect and equal dignity of all persons;
    • review recruitment strategies to ensure focused outreach is occurring;
    • ensure equal representation in all applicant pools for all job groups and at all levels in the organization; and
    • put forth retention efforts and provide professional development opportunities for underutilized groups equal to the efforts and opportunities afforded others in the workforce.

  8. Does affirmative action require goals?

    Yes, placement goals are required for women and minorities when underutilization exists. Placement goals are objectives which the employer works toward by applying good faith effort.

  9. What happens if the University does not meet its placement goals?

    While placement goals are important, the demonstration of a good faith effort to achieve those goals is more important. As a federal contractor, the University must be able to show that it has taken vigorous, active, measureable steps to ensure that qualified women and minorities are included in its applicant pools and be able to objectively demonstrate that the selection process was fair and consistent.

  10. Does affirmative action require a federal contractor to hire a less-qualified applicant to meet a placement goal?

    No, all employment decisions must be based on merit. Basing an employment action on race, national origin/ethnicity, sex, or anything other than qualifications is generally prohibited.