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Affirmative Action Frequently Asked Questions

This section will provide you with information in response to the most frequently asked questions by members of the UC Merced community regarding affirmative action for staff employees.

What does Affirmative Action mean to staff employees at UC Merced?

Affirmative action is best understood in terms of the goal: equal employment opportunity for everyone. Equal Employment Opportunity is the condition where all personnel decisions such as hiring, promotions, etc. are made without any consideration of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy, 1 physical or mental disability, medical condition (cancer-related or generic characteristics), ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, or service in the uniformed services (as defined by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994). 2

Affirmative action, therefore, is a vehicle by which we seek to reach the goal of equal employment opportunity. Affirmative action may take the form of outreach recruitment efforts, educational opportunities for career advancement, and other training and skill enhancement programs for all employees, including women, minorities, persons with disabilities and covered veterans.3 Affirmative action is proactive and can be all of these things and much more.

What is an Affirmative Action Program?

A central premise underlying affirmative action is that, absent discrimination, over time an employer’s workforce generally, will reflect the gender, racial and ethnic profile of the labor pools from which the employer recruits and selects employees. An Affirmative Action program is a management tool designed to ensure equal employment opportunity. It includes those policies, practices and procedures that employers, including the University, implement to ensure that all qualified applicants and employees are receiving an equal opportunity for recruitment, selection, advancement, training, development and every other term, condition and privilege of employment.

For whom is Affirmative Action undertaken?

Affirmative action is undertaken for minorities, women, individuals with disabilities and covered veterans.

Generally, what does the University’s Affirmative Action program consist of?*

The University’s Affirmative Action program consists of: annual quantitative analyses designed to evaluate the composition of the University workforce and compare it to the composition of the relevant external labor pools, action-oriented programs with specific practical steps to address the underutilization of minorities and women (if women and minorities are not being employed at a rate to be expected given their availability in the relevant external labor pools); internal auditing and reporting systems that measure the University’s progress in hiring minorities and women; and mechanisms to monitor the University’s employment decisions in order to evaluate the impact of those decisions on minorities, women, individuals with disabilities and covered veterans.

Are Affirmative Action goals required?

Executive Order 11246 requires all federal contractors to make good faith efforts to meet affirmative action goals, and those federal contractors that employ 50 or more employees and receive $50,000 or more in federal funds, must have a written affirmative action plan for women and minorities. Goals and timetables are part of the requirements of an affirmative action plan for women and minorities. Goals are voluntary measures of progress in hiring women and minorities that an employer such as the University has established for its workforce to correct underutilization.

Are quotas a part of the University’s Affirmative Action Program?

No, quotas are not a part of the University’s Affirmative Action program. However, under federal regulations, the University is required to establish goals for hiring women and minorities in those jobs or job groups where the percentage of minorities and women employed in the University workforce is less than would be reasonably expected given their availability.

Who benefits from the University’s affirmative action policies and programs?

All employees benefit from the University’s affirmative action policies and programs as they help to ensure a fair work environment for everyone.

Does Proposition 209 eliminate employment affirmative action at UC Merced?

No, UC Merced is a federal contractor and is obligated to comply with federal laws and regulations regarding Affirmative Action in employment. These obligations include good faith efforts to create diverse pools of applicants for open UC Merced positions; developing and implementing affirmative action plans that identify areas of underutilization of women and minorities, and demonstrating good faith efforts to eliminate underutilization.

If you have read the FAQ and have additional questions, feel free to send us an email at

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*Excerpts taken from the University of California Office of the President Diversity website.

1 Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth and medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth.

2 Service in the uniformed services includes membership, application for membership, performance of service, application for service, or obligation for service in the uniformed services.

3 Covered veterans include veterans with disabilities, recently separated veterans, Vietnam era veterans, veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Military Ground, Naval or Air Service during a war or in a campaign expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized, or Armed Forces service medal veterans.