Main Functions of Affirmative Action

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Updated: Aug 21, 2023
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Affirmative action generates an environment where equal employment opportunities can grow. Additionally, affirmative action is compensatory and helps to reform the effects of past discrimination. Affirmative action aims to achieve a positive effect in reducing discrimination and creates new opportunities for those who were historically discriminated against such as women, people with disabilities, African Americans, Hispanics, and the elderly. Affirmative action changes according to three important sectors: education, government contracting, and employment.

According to Executive Order 11246, the government requires authorities to check and estimate the total scope of its officials who specialize in the identification and correction of any obstacles to equal employment opportunities. In the United States, an executive order is an instruction issued by the President of the United States that conducts operations of the federal government and has the force of law. Whenever obstacles such as discrimination or violation of equal employment opportunity occur, the contractor or specific authority is required to create a program accurately adjusted to correct these obstacles. The contrasting relationship between affirmative action and discrimination is shown in the Executive Order itself, which starts with a direct opposition to discrimination.

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In October 1977, affirmative action was specified in the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights as “any measure beyond simple termination of a discriminatory practice, adopted to correct or compensate for past or present discrimination or to prevent discrimination from recurring in the future.” The reason that affirmative action was created is because the U.S. government tried to decrease the discrimination that had occurred for a long period of time. The affirmative action policies included several actions that help minority groups. These actions contained policies, programs, and procedures that can provide minority groups better and equal opportunities to get jobs, admission to institutions of higher education, awarding of government contracts, and other social benefits. The first president that contemplated the term ‘affirmative action’ was President John F. Kennedy (J.F.K.) in 1961.

Following J.F. K.’s assassination, President Lyndon Baines Johnson established affirmative action between the years 1963 and 1969. The reason he stood behind affirmative action was due to the severe discrimination towards African Americans. In response, the federal government began to launch policies under the premise of civil rights. In 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed Executive Order 11246. According to the new Executive Order, the Secretary of Labor held the responsibility for administration and enforcement of requirements for contractors to immediately stop discrimination in the workplace, based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Contractors needed to follow affirmative action to ensure discrimination did not occur in the workforce.

Discrimination can be exercised through employment, promotions, demotions, transfers, recruitment, recruitment advertising, layoffs, terminations, rates of pay, other forms of compensation, and selection for training, such as apprenticeships. Additionally, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance created a program to compensate for years of discrimination that occurred in the construction industry. The affirmative action programs were designed to help minority groups by increasing hiring results in federally financed construction jobs.

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Main Functions Of Affirmative Action. (2019, Apr 29). Retrieved from