Affirmative Action FAQ
What does the term affirmative action refer to?
Affirmative action is a term that encompasses any measure adopted by an employer to correct or compensate for past discrimination or to prevent discrimination from recurring in the future. Per federal regulations, a satisfactory Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) must evaluate opportunities for members of underrepresented groups, identify and analyze problem areas, and where statistical analysis reveals a disparity between availability and incumbency, identify affirmative steps aimed at ensuring equal opportunity.
How does affirmative action work in practice?
Generally, an employer identifies positions in which members of a particular group, such as women or minorities, are underrepresented in comparison to the relevant population. The employer then may take steps like increased outreach in recruiting, assessment of potential barriers in the hiring process, and assessment of barriers to retention, in order to address the disparity.
Does affirmative action allow ‘reverse discrimination’ or preferences for certain groups?
No. MSU is an equal opportunity employer and does not permit race, sex, or any other protected status to affect employment decisions. Affirmative action at MSU involves removing barriers to applying, being considered, accepting or continuing employment. Put simply, it is intended to help ensure MSU hires the most qualified person from as diverse a pool of applicants as possible.
What steps can my department or office take to ensure an inclusive job search?
A variety of options are available. For example, MSU’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion (OIDI) offers resources to assist in achieving representation in recruitment and retention on the OIDI Recruitment and Retention webpage. Basic steps for enhancing the diversity and representativeness of applicant pools include:
- Selecting a search committee that is representative of diverse backgrounds and experiences
- Reviewing job postings to avoid language that may discourage applicants from underrepresented groups, and
- Making a conscious effort to list and publicize the position through networks and publications likely to reach more diverse groups of potential applicants.
OIDI also offers training opportunities on these and many other strategies for MSU departments to ensure that the selection process is fair and free of bias.