Affirmative action refers to a set of positive practices or good faith efforts that are assumed by employers, university admissions offices, and government agencies to ensure equal employment opportunities to avoid cases of discrimination and eliminate barriers in regards to employment (EOO, 2007; Holzer, 2006).Its history would be traced back in the 1960’s when President John F. Kennedy first utilized the term in an executive order in 1961 formulated to encourage contractors on projects managed with federal funds to racially assimilate labor forces (Encarta, 2007). And 1969, President Richard Nixon pioneered the implementation of federal policies that favour hiring and employment of the minority.
The Nixon administration conceptualized the Philadelphia Plan that obliged contractors to develop their goals for hiring minorities. This have been due to the prevalent discrimination and social exclusion the racial or ethnic or minority population as well as women have been subjected to in most of the history of the United States.Not only were they unequally and unlawful experiencing limited and discriminated opportunities in employment, but also in land-owning, education, voting and public accommodations (EOO, 2007). Moreover, affirmative action is not a law (EOO, 2007).But the US government gives the President the right and power to issue executive orders such as the EO 11246 issued by President Johnson in 1965.
It necessitates the federal contractors to undertake affirmative action to ensure that applicants would be employed without any sort of discrimination in regards with race, nationality, age or sex.Also in the mentioned EO, federal contractors and subcontractors (with contracts of $50,000 or more) are obliged to recognize underused minorities, measure minority availability and compose regulations and timeframe to reduce such underusage whenever possible (Holzer, 2006). Furthermore in 1967, this function and regulation was extended to women by the power of the Executive Order 11375.The Affirmative action specifically aims to require contractors to execute affirmative action plans to equal ensure employment opportunities without discrimination to the characters as stated above.
Along with it are the goals of continuously improving the economic status of racial or minority groups as well as women not only in terms of employment, but also in other aspects such education, business ownership, human growth and development and others (Holzer, 2006).With such definition and characterization of Affirmative Action, it can be deduced that it goes hand-in-hand with the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO). EEO refers to employment regulations and systems that guarantees non-discrimination on the basis of the characters previously enumerated and also with religion, physical and mental capabilities, mental condition and ancestry (University of California, 2007).Hence, EEO in principle also aims equal access of all to opportunities and is legally authorized by all federal contractors. And one of the aspects of the efforts and visions of the federal government is affirmative action to assure that the goals of equal employment opportunity are realized.Though in such similarity, demarcation and distinction between Equal Employment Opportunity or Equal Opportunity and Affirmative action should be acknowledged in terms of their legal basis, intentions or objectives and implementation (EOO, 2007).
Although both shaped by judicial jurisdiction, Affirmative Action is only employed when actions defy equal opportunity laws or constitutional rights.Equal Opportunity institutes protected classes upon which employment and educational decisions are non-executable while Affirmative Action mandates federal fund recipients to continuously ensure equal opportunity on groups that have been historically discriminated.The implementation of Equal Opportunity is passive or global which require legal actions such as filing of claims while Affirmative Action is active or institution specific and are based primarily on written plans and regulations of concerning programs.An Affirmative Action employer must be aware of the following plans or good faith efforts (EOO, 2007):a) institute a documented and on-paper policy on EEO and related or associated employment procedures that does away with discrimination, and are rationally detailed and readily accessible;b) identify the people who are responsible for assuring EEO, and make them responsible or accountable for the accomplishment of the Affirmative Action program;c) continuously employ affected group members;d) educate organizational members about their rights and privileges as well as responsibilities in equal opportunity;e) assemble and train search committees and hiring authority;f) notify outside contracts of the institution’s affirmative action/equal opportunity commitment in its programs and commercials;g) supervise the hiring and selection process, and other regulations of employment (benefits, training etc);h) ensure appropriate standards of employment and legitimacy or qualification of duties of the job by reviewing description of positions;i) ensure that criteria for non-discrimination is well-established for employment and promotion to all applicants in accordance to legal basis;j) and provide an internal procedure for addressing discrimination complaints.
If an employer fails to comply with the necessary Executive Orders and other affirmative action regulations, then the contract of the employer with the federal government is despoiled (EOO, 2007).If proven of violation of the Executive Order 11246, the said contract employer or contractor has the possibility of being suspended and even terminated. The contractor may also be debarred or expelled and cannot anymore be legible for other future contracts with the federal government.References:Encarta, M.
(2007). Affirmative Action. Retrieved May 12, 2007, from http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761580666/Affirmative_Action.htmlEOO.
(2007). Affirmative action. Retrieved May 11, 2007, 2007, from http://www.kumc.
edu/eoo/aff.html#intentionHolzer, H. (2006, January 5, 2006). Affirmative Action What Do We Know? Retrieved May 11, 2007, from http://www.
urban.org/publications/1000862.htmlUniversity of California, B. (2007, April 11, 2007). Guide to Managing Human Resources Chapter 2: Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Retrieved May 11, 2007, 2007, from http://hrweb.berkeley.edu/guide/affirmative.htm