Origins of Affirmative Action
By: Recruiting Specialist
Affirmative Action plays a critical role in promoting diversity in the workplace. Its foundation is based on Civil Rights provisions on racial inequality. The phrase "Affirmative Action"; however, was coined by President John F. Kennedy, when he enacted Executive Order 10925 in March 6, 1961 which outlined the Government’s commitment to Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and required government contractors to take measures to hire "without regard to race, creed, color, or national origin".
This executive order was later amended by President Lyndon B. Johnson and included an Equal Opportunity Employment provision based on gender, as well as a notation that contractors must document their affirmative action measures under Executive Order 11246.
Multiple laws have been enacted since which impact Affirmative Action and EEO hiring, one of which is the Rehabilitation Act, of which Section 503 requires affirmative action for individuals with disabilities. And the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), which was enacted in 1974, mandates that those doing business with the government ensure their job openings reach qualified Vietnam era veterans returning home from the war and ensure there is no discrimination in the hiring process.
The 2002 Jobs for Veterans Act (JVA) amended the order to include special disabled and disabled veterans, veterans who have enlisted in the Armed Forces and those in the active reserves or National Guard.
In its truest form, Affirmative action is meant to level the playing field for all Americans, ensuring that everyone has the same opportunities when it comes to jobs and salary, to school admission, scholarships and financial aid.
As it relates to federal contractors in particular, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) monitors these requirements via its compliance mandates.
OFCCP compliance stipulates that as a federal contractor or subcontractor doing business with the federal government, with contracts totaling $10,000 or more, you need to comply with mandatory job-listing requirements. JVA amended the order, and increased this to contracts totaling $25,000 or more. Also, if you have 50 employees or more and have contracts totaling $50,000 or more you are also required to develop an Affirmative Action plan that centers on hiring, training and promoting veterans.
As part of an affirmative action plan, federal contractors and subcontractors must list all employment openings with local state employment services, and submit an annual report on the number of current employees who are covered veterans.