Affirmative Action

Last Updated: June 30, 2018

Definition - What does Affirmative Action mean?

Affirmative action is a federally mandated hiring plan that focuses on equal opportunity employment rights for protected groups. The plan's goal is to eliminate discrimination against women, minorities, individuals with disabilities and others protected by law against discrimination.

Federal employers implementing affirmative action are under a legal obligation to not discriminate against any applicant based on their race, religion, colour, gender or nationality.

WorkplaceTesting explains Affirmative Action

Affirmative action aims to provide equal opportunity in the workplace. It is used as a measure to ensure that employment opportunities do not exclude anyone from getting a job based on ethnicity, gender or other factors but reach out to such minority groups instead.

Historically, affirmative action was an order issued by President John F. Kennedy prohibiting discrimination in the workforce. Politically, the same was ordained to alleviate past employment segregation and inequity while encouraging workplace diversity in a positive way.

Government agencies and contractors with more than 50 employees or with contracts worth more than $50,000 need to abide by affirmative action plans when recruiting employees. Private companies, on the other hand are exempt from mandatory implementation. However, many do have written affirmative actions plans that they follow.

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