Affirmative Action Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Affirmative Action, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Affirmative Action?

n. an administration that is subordinate on, or is subordinate to, some other administration’s decisions. Commonly used in real estate where it denotes the administration of someone’s assests in a state or in a different land that he belongs to.

History and Meaning of Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is a policy that was first introduced in the 1960s in the United States to combat discrimination against minority groups, particularly African Americans. The policy required employers and universities to take active steps to increase the representation of underrepresented groups in their institutions. This was initially done through the establishment of quotas or targets for hiring and admissions, but over time, the policy evolved to focus more on diversity and inclusion efforts.

The purpose of affirmative action is to provide equal opportunities to individuals who have historically been marginalized or excluded from certain institutions. It aims to level the playing field by recognizing and addressing systemic barriers that have prevented these individuals from fully participating in society. While affirmative action policies have been controversial, they have played a critical role in increasing diversity and promoting equal access to opportunities.

Examples of Affirmative Action

  1. An employer creates a hiring initiative targeted at recruiting more women and people of color into leadership positions.

  2. A university increases its recruitment efforts in underrepresented communities and offers scholarships specifically for students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

  3. A government agency establishes goals for hiring individuals with disabilities and provides accommodations to ensure their full participation in the workplace.

  4. A nonprofit organization partners with local schools to provide mentorship and college readiness programs to students from low-income neighborhoods.

  5. A city government implements a plan to increase the number of women- and minority-owned businesses that are awarded city contracts.

Legal Terms Similar to Affirmative Action

  1. Diversity and Inclusion: These terms refer to efforts to promote a welcoming and inclusive environment for individuals of diverse backgrounds.

  2. Equal Opportunity: This term refers to the principle that all individuals should have equal access to opportunities, regardless of their race, gender, or other personal characteristics.

  3. Quota: This term refers to a specific numerical goal for hiring or admissions, which may be used as part of an affirmative action plan.

  4. Reverse Discrimination: This term is used by opponents of affirmative action to describe situations where they believe that individuals from overrepresented groups are unfairly disadvantaged in the hiring or admissions process.