What is an Affirmative Action Plan?

An Affirmative Action plan or program is a management tool designed to ensure equal employment opportunity. A central premise underlying affirmative action is that, over time, absent discrimination, a contractor's workforce will generally reflect the gender, racial, and ethnic profile of the labor pools from which the contractor recruits and selects.

Affirmative Action programs contain a diagnostic component which includes a number of quantitative analyses designed to evaluate the composition of the workforce of the contractor and compare it to the composition of the relevant labor pools. 

Affirmative Action programs also include action-oriented programs. If women and minorities are not being employed at a rate to be expected given their availability in the relevant labor pool, the contractor's affirmative action program includes specific practical steps designed to address this underutilization.

Effective Affirmative Action programs also include internal auditing and reporting systems as a means of measuring the contractor's progress toward achieving the workforce that would be expected in the absence of discrimination.

An Affirmative Action program also ensures equal employment opportunity by institutionalizing the contractor's commitment to equality in every aspect of the employment process. Therefore, as part of its Affirmative Action program, a contractor monitors and examines its employment decisions and compensation systems to evaluate the impact of those systems on women and minorities.

An Affirmative Action program is, thus, more than a paperwork exercise. An Affirmative Action program includes those policies, practices, and procedures that the contractor implements to ensure that all qualified applicants and employees are receiving an equal opportunity for recruitment, selection, advancement, and every other term and privilege associated with employment. Affirmative Action, ideally, is a part of the way the contractor regularly conducts its business. OFCCP has found that when an Affirmative Action program is approached from this perspective, as a powerful management tool, there is a positive correlation between the presence of Affirmative Action and the absence of discrimination.1

1 Code of Federal Regulations pertaining to the U. S. Department of Labor, Title 41, Chapter 60-2.10

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