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Affirmative Action Glossary

Affirmative Action      

Affirmative action is one aspect of the federal government's efforts to ensure equal employment opportunity. Executive Order 11246 prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, or national origin and requires contractors to implement affirmative action plans to increase the participation of minorities and women in the workplace. Pursuant to federal regulations, affirmative action plans must consist of an equal employment opportunity policy statement, an analysis of the current workforce, identification of problem areas, the establishment of goals and timetables for increasing employment opportunities, specific action-oriented programs to address problem areas, support for community action programs and the establishment of an internal audit and reporting system.


Availability is an estimate of the percentage of minorities and women in the relevant labor market who are qualified and interested in positions on the campus during the term of the affirmative action program. Using a process that considers two factors (see below), statistics from outside labor markets and the internal campus workforce are used to determine availability percentages for each job group.


The University is a federal contractor and is obligated to comply with federal laws and regulations regarding affirmative action. These obligations include ensuring diverse pools of applicants for campus positions; developing and maintaining affirmative action plans that identify areas of underutilization of minorities and women, and demonstrating good faith efforts to eliminate underutilization.


Generally, diversity refers to "human qualities that are different from our own and those of groups to which we belong; but that are manifested in other individuals and groups. Dimensions of diversity include but are not limited to: age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities or qualities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, military experience, parental status, religious beliefs, work experience and job classification." (Adapted from Marilyn Loden and Judy Rosener, Workforce America! Managing Employee Diversity as a Vital Resource, Illinois: Business One Irwin, 1991, p. 18.) In the context of this plan, diversity represents a comprehensive organizational and managerial process for developing an environment that maximizes the potential of all employees by valuing difference.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)        

A term used by the federal government to refer to employment practices that ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, national origin, physical or mental ability, medical condition, ancestry, or age. The principle behind EEO is that everyone should have the same access to opportunities.

Goal (or Placement Goal)      

According to federal affirmative action regulations, an employer must set goals for hiring women and minorities in job groups where the employer has identified underutilization. The goal is a percentage that matches the rate of availability. For example, in a job group where women are underutilized and the availability rate for women in that job group is 25 percent, the goal would be for 25 percent of the hires for that year in that job group to be women. There is no requirement for the employer to meet the goals. Rather, the goals are targets that employers may use to measure the overall effectiveness of their affirmative action program.


The term “minorities” as used in affirmative action refers to four ethnic minority groups: American Indians or Alaskan Natives, Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders.

Proposition 209            

Also known as the California Civil Rights Initiative, Proposition 209 is a California ballot proposition which, upon approval in November 1996, amended the state constitution to prohibit public institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity, except where “strictly necessary” to maintain eligibility for federal funding. The University is required to comply with federal affirmative action requirements in order to remain eligible for funding as a federal contractor. Under federal guidelines, the use of race or gender as a “plus” factor in making employment decisions is permitted, but not required. Therefore, the use of race or gender as a “plus” factor is no longer a part of the University’s affirmative action plan. However, federal enforcement agencies have determined that race and gender recruitment efforts are “strictly necessary” components of an effective affirmative action plan. Therefore, the University continues to conduct inclusive recruitment and outreach in job groups where there is underutilization.


Because the workforce numbers fluctuate, a snapshot of the workforce is taken at one particular point in time, e.g., as of a particular day, and used as the basis for analysis. The snapshot used for utilization analysis of the workforce is April 30 of each year.

Two-Factor Analysis  

Current government regulations require that in performing availability analyses, an organization must consider at least eight designated factors. Referred to as the "Two-Factor Analysis," they include the following for minorities:

  1. The availability of minorities/women having requisite skills in an area in which the contractor can reasonably recruit.
  2. The availability of trainable, promotable and transferable minority/female employees within the contractor’s organization.

Availability is determined for each job group by weighting each of the above factors in accordance with each factor’s significance to that job group.


Underutilization occurs when the percentage of employees in a protected group (women or minorities) is less than the availability percentage for that protected group. Underutilization is calculated for employees in each job group. The declaration of underutilization does not amount to an admission of impermissible conduct. It is neither a finding of discrimination nor a finding of a lack of good faith affirmative action efforts. Rather, underutilization is a technical targeting term used exclusively by affirmative action planners who seek to apply good faith efforts to increase in the future the percentage of utilization of minorities and women in a workforce.

Utilization Analysis      

A comparison of the percentage of minority or women employees actually in a job group with the percentage of qualified minorities and women in the relevant labor market.



(Glossary from UC Berkeley June 2014)