Affirmative Action Plan Glossary

Affirmative Action Plan Glossary

Find definitions and explanations of common Affirmative Action-related terms below.

Affirmative Action Plan Unit (AAP Unit)

An Affirmative Action Plan Unit (also referred to as an Affirmative Action Establishment) is a cohesive subset of the Institute that comprises at least 50 employees. Each Unit has its own Affirmative Action Plan.

Affirmative Action Plan Year (AAP Year)

This is the period during which Placement Goals and Targets apply and during which Good Faith Efforts to address those goals are carried out. The annual Affirmative Action Plans are based on data from the previous year. MIT’s 2017 plan year, for example, runs from November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017, and the 2017 annual plan is based on data from November 1, 2015 to October 31, 2016.

Adverse Impact

Adverse impact exists when there is a substantially different rate of selection in hiring, promotion, or other employment decisions, which works to the disadvantage of members of a race, sex, or ethnic group.


Availability is an estimate of the number of qualified minorities or women available for employment in a given job group, expressed as a percentage of all qualified persons available for employment in the job group. The purpose of determining availability is to establish a benchmark against which the demographic composition of MIT's incumbent workforce can be compared to determine whether barriers to equal employment opportunity exist within particular job groups.

  • Internal availability represents current women and minority employees who are eligible for promotion or transfer into the job group being analyzed, or who could reasonably be trained for movement in the current plan year into the job group being analyzed.
  • External availability represents the percentage of women and minorities with requisite skills in the geographic areas from which the Institute could reasonably seek individuals to fill MIT jobs.
    • For Faculty: The Plan's data source for external availability is information from the National Center for Education Statistics on doctorates earned in applicable disciplines from all U.S. institutions.
    • For Staff: The Plan’s principal data source for external availability is the 2010 U.S. Census. For some job groups the geographic recruiting area was limited to the Boston Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area; for other job groups the entire U.S. was used.


See Placement Goal

Good Faith Efforts

This term refers to MIT's efforts to make all aspects of its affirmative action plan work. Designing and implementing an effective affirmative action plan requires sustained attention. MIT is required to analyze its employment and recruitment practices as they affect equal opportunity, identify problem areas, design and implement measures to address the problems, and monitor the effectiveness of its program, making adjustments as circumstances warrant. In evaluating MIT's good faith efforts, we must make a careful assessment of the quality and thoroughness of the work to implement programs and assure equal opportunity.

The basic components of good faith efforts are (1) outreach and recruitment measures to broaden candidate pools from which selection decisions are made to include minorities and women; and (2) systematic efforts to assure that selections thereafter are made without regard to race, sex, or other prohibited factors.

Job Groups

Jobs across the Institute with similar or analogous characteristics such as content, wage rates, and promotional opportunities are aggregated into job groups for statistical analysis. These job groups are the basic unit for Affirmative Action analysis.

Job Title

The job title is the "official" title for Institute reporting purposes. It is the title that is used in the Affirmative Action reports. e.g., Administrative Officer (AO). (See also Position Title.)

Placement Goal

Where underutilization of women and minorities is identified, a placement goal is set to increase the utilization. The goal is to place qualified women and minority applicants at a rate equal to their availability. The Institute can use these placement goals to focus its good faith efforts to make equal employment opportunity a reality.

Position Title

The position title is the name given to a specific role. This is the title commonly used within the department. Sometimes, it is a specific title used in community practice. This title appears in the online directory, and people often use this title on business cards e.g., Biology Administrative Officer.  (See also Job Title.)

Racial/Ethnic Group

The Affirmative Action Plan provides quantitative analysis of the MIT work force by the following racial/ethnic groups. Federal regulations define ethnicity as "Hispanic or Latino" or "Not Hispanic or Latino."



Hispanic or Latino

A person of Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race



American Indian or Alaska Native

A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains a tribal affiliation or community attachment


A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

A person having origins in any of the peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands

Black or African American

A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa, including Haitians


A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa

Two or More Races

A person who identifies with more than one of the above five races.

Serious Search Policy


To ensure that veterans and individuals with disabilities are adequately represented in the workforce, the Department of Labor sets utilization targets for veterans and individuals with disabilities. The same target applies across all employers and job groups, and the value can change from year to year.

The Institute can use these targets to focus its good faith efforts to make equal employment opportunity a reality.


The percentage of employees in an AAP Unit and Job Group who are members of a particular protected class.


Underutilization exists where women and minorities are not being employed at a rate to be expected given their availability in the relevant labor pool. The Affirmative Action program includes specific action-oriented steps to address underutilization.

A determination of underutilization within a job group is not necessarily an indicator of discrimination or lack of good faith efforts. Instead, it can be a first indicator that barriers to equal employment opportunity may exist within a job group, and it helps the Institute identify job groups that may need additional attention in the attempt to make equal opportunity a reality.