Affirmative Action

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Definition of 'Affirmative Action'

Affirmative action is a policy or program designed to increase the representation of a particular group of people (such as women, racial minorities, or people with disabilities) in a workforce or other setting. Affirmative action is intended to counteract the effects of past discrimination.

There are a number of different types of affirmative action policies. One common type is a quota system, which requires employers to hire a certain percentage of people from a particular group. Another type of affirmative action policy is a set-aside program, which reserves a certain number of jobs or contracts for members of a particular group.

Affirmative action policies have been controversial since they were first implemented in the United States in the 1960s. Critics argue that affirmative action policies discriminate against white males and that they create a reverse discrimination. Supporters of affirmative action policies argue that they are necessary to correct the effects of past discrimination and to create a more diverse workforce.

The debate over affirmative action policies is likely to continue for many years to come. There are a number of legal challenges to affirmative action policies currently pending in the courts. The Supreme Court has ruled on a number of affirmative action cases in the past, but the issue remains unresolved.

In the United States, affirmative action policies are typically implemented at the state or local level. The federal government has no general affirmative action program, but it does have a number of laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. These laws have been interpreted by the courts to require employers to take affirmative action to ensure that they do not discriminate against members of protected groups.

Affirmative action policies are also used in other countries. In Canada, for example, the federal government has a program called Employment Equity that requires employers to take steps to increase the representation of women, visible minorities, and Aboriginal peoples in the workforce.

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