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Key Differences Between EEO Laws and
Affirmative Action Requirements.
1. PURPOSE: To protect all
employees and applicants from employment discrimination.
1. PURPOSE: To correct the
effects of past discrimination and to achieve the goal of a workforce that represents our nation's diverse population.
2. COVERAGE: All employees 2. COVERAGE: Some groups and applicants.
such as minorities, women, and the handicapped.
3. NATURE: Define discrimi
natory practices and tell employers what not to do.
3. NATURE: Define what
must be done and develop plans to achieve specific goals.
4. VIOLATION: When discrim
inatory acts are committed by employers, managers, and supervisors.
4. VIOLATION: When em
ployers do not make efforts to achieve affirmative action goals.
What is Affirmative Action?
Affirmative action is a legal concept that requires that Customs do more than ensure that equal employment opportunity is a part of its practices. It requires Customs to make additional efforts to recruit, employ and promote qualified members of protected groups formerly excluded from the employment process. While the program is designed to encourage management and supervisors to make additional efforts in these areas, it does not require or imply the use of "quotas," nor does it abrogate the merit principles of the personnel selection system. For affirmative action purposes, protected groups include Alaskan Natives/American Indians, Asians/Pacific Islanders, Blacks, Hispanics, and White Females.
The primary objective of the affirmative action program is to identify and remove organizational barriers that impede the hiring, promotion, training, and retention of qualified minorities and women. The main component of this program is the affirmative action plan.
Affirmative Action Plan
An affirmative action plan is a tool which, when used correctly, will help to achieve fairness and equity in employment, by:
• Identifying and eliminating discriminatory Customs
personnel policies or practices.
• Increasing the number of minorities and women at all
levels of the organization where historically they have been excluded.
• Devising internal monitoring and reporting procedures
which measure progress in eliminating discrimination. Contents
The plan consists of:
• A policy statement.
• A workforce analysis.
• Assessment of underrepresentation.
• Barrier analysis (a review to determine which policies
or procedures impede Customs efforts to eliminate underrepresentation).
• Affirmative action summary.
• A policy statement and action plan on sexual harass
Preparation Preparation of the affirmative action plan is a management process. Both Headquarters and Regional management are responsible for preparing affirmative action plans, with advice and coordination from the EEO Office. Copies of plans are available from those Offices.
Affirmative Action Goals The goal of affirmative action is to achieve a Customs workforce representative of the Nation's diverse population as a whole. When this is fully achieved, the workforce will no longer contain underrepresented groups and affirmative action will be necessary only to monitor and maintain representation. Affirmative action goals are based on the civilian labor force population for the geographical area covered by the plan. The civilian labor force is defined as the number of persons 16 years-ofage and over, who are employed or seeking employment. Persons in the armed forces are not counted.
Common Misconceptions • Affirmative action means that management must
hire unqualified women and minorities.
FALSE. Affirmative action goals set targeted hiring for qualified minorities and women. No one should hire unqualified people to meet a goal. Affirmative action reaffirms the principle that the hiring of people should be based solely on their qualifications. For example, if there are two applicants (a Black female and a Hispanic male) for a position and both are equally qualified, then affirmative action principles dictate that the person who would help eliminate underrepresentation should be hired. If Hispanic males are underrepresented and both applicants are equally qualified, the Hispanic male should be hired.
• The affirmative action plan assigns quotas.
FALSE. The affirmative action plan sets goals, not quotas. Quotas are court imposed and require hiring only a targeted group. For example, a quota for 40 Hispanic females would require that the next 40 hires be Hispanic females. No other hiring would be allowed for any group until that quota was filled. Fortunately, Customs has no quotas to meet. Instead, it is striving to recruit and employ qualified members of certain race and gender groups that are underrepresented in the Customs workforce.
• Affirmative action is reverse discrimination against
FALSE. Affirmative action permits women and minorities to compete for jobs on an equal basis with similarly qualified White males, heightening competition among applicants and providing Customs with a well-qualified, diverse applicant pool.
• Affirmative actions means that supervisors will be
told whom to promote.
FALSE. Advancement must always be based on an employee's skills, abilities, and job performance. No employee can afford to use his/her minority or female status to obtain preferential treatment. An employer is required to treat all personnel fairly and equally; otherwise, the management of a division/unit is the supervisor's prerogative. Naturally, the supervisor must follow Customs policies and procedures.
• Affirmative action requires managers and supervisors
to spend an extraordinary amount of time doing paperwork.
FALSE. Affirmative action imposes no more burden on managers and supervisors than do any of their other duties and responsibilities. It does, however, require some monitoring and evaluative activity.
A manager or supervisor can practice affirmative action daily as good personnel management by:
• Encouraging a work environment of mutual respect
and cooperation among employees.
• Avoiding racial, ethnic, age, or sex stereotyping in
evaluating employees' abilities and performance.
• Asking individual subordinates about their goals for
• Helping subordinates who seek advancement, by
evaluating their skills and by recommending areas for improvement to qualify for promotion opportunities. Employees, who have the desire and potential for future advancement, should be assigned work that will prepare them for higher level positions.
• Using Career Development (CADE) or trainee posi
tions to reach minorities and women who have the potential for higher level positions.