Definition: Affirmative Action

University policy requires the University to take specific steps to ensure that certain groups of people who have been discriminated against in the past are provided an equal opportunity to participate in employment, education, and all University-related benefits. The purpose of affirmative action is to remove the barriers that have excluded people from full participation. The groups currently covered by affirmative action, defined by state and federal law, include women, racial minorities, people with disabilities, disabled veterans, veterans of the Vietnam era, recently separated veterans, and other eligible veterans.

Affirmative action in employment includes the screening of position descriptions and selection criteria to ensure the use of appropriate requirements; comprehensive and inclusive advertising and recruiting efforts; special or targeted recruiting in addition to traditional methods; and gender-neutral and culturally bias-free criteria in hiring, performance evaluation, and termination, thereby making the entire system fair to all individuals. Employment and education requirements are not lowered.

The University is required under federal law, specifically Executive Order 11246, to establish hiring goals for women and racial minorities when their representation in the University workforce is less than their representation in the local or national labor pool. Setting goals does not mean establishing quotas. Hiring goals are based on several factors. In setting the goals, the University conducts a utilization analysis to determine its current employment of women and minorities and an availability analysis to determine the number of qualified women and racial minorities available to meet the hiring goals. The University’s affirmative action program for disabled individuals, disabled veterans, and Vietnam era veterans is similar to the program for women and racial minorities, except that goals are not set. 

Staff members in the EOAA office gather, maintain, and update the data and information necessary to develop the University’s affirmative action program. The information includes labor market statistics; national statistics on graduates of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs; and data generated within the University itself. The EOAA office distributes workforce availability and goal reports to collegiate, administrative, and campus equal opportunity officers.