Division of

Diversity and Inclusion

Frequently Asked Questions
Is Affirmative Action a set of laws used to disadvantage whites and diminish their chances to obtain employment and opportunities?
A.  Affirmative Action is a term that has been applied to many public and private initiatives designed to address problems of discriminating or exclusion in employment, education and contracting.  The policies were instituted as a vehicle to transform the landscape of American social justice from an unequal playing field to an equal one. However, these policies have often been wrongly perceived as a tool used to subjugate whites.

In truth, the policies are the government’s mechanism for implementing the Civil Rights Acts by ensuring that employers’ participate in good faith efforts to eliminate discrimination. These good faith efforts ensure that specific, results-oriented procedures are employed to balance competing interests and provide equal access in educational and employment arenas for all people.

Do I have to hire a minority or woman who is less qualified for a job to comply with the Affirmative Action Plan?
A.  No. Affirmative Action gives everyone an opportunity to be judged on individual merit. Affirmative Action does not require an employer to hire a person who lacks the qualifications to perform the job successfully, hire unqualified, or hire a less qualified person in preference to a more qualified one.  Rather, Affirmative Action gives women, minorities, persons who are differently abled, and veterans a chance to compete.

Why must the Affirmative Action form be signed by every signatory including the person representing the Division of Diversity and Inclusion before a job offer can be extended?
A.  The signatures serve as evidence that the hiring process has been reviewed and found to be in compliance with the procedures in the campus Affirmative Action Plan, which is the specific responsibility of the Division of Diversity and Inclusion. 

Do affirmative action laws only require us to hire women and specific minority groups?
A.  No. The law requires that we offer employment opportunities to veterans and persons with disabilities as well as women and members of minority groups. Additionally, hiring women or minorities in lower level positions which do not offer potential for advancement is unacceptable. The same kinds of opportunities must exist for everyone.

Does affirmative action mean quotas?
A.  No. Affirmative Action plans do not impose quotas. Affirmative Action plans seek to increase the pool of qualified applicants, including minorities, women, veterans and persons with disabilities, by using aggressive recruitment and outreach programs, setting goals and establishing training program, among other measures. 

Is affirmative action a form of reverse discrimination?
A.  Affirmative action is not a form of reverse discrimination. The concept of affirmative action addresses the fact that discrimination against members of minority groups and women has been a part of our nation’s history and continues to exist. Affirmative Action attempts to offer redress. Learning to appreciate the contributions of women and minorities requires a change in the way we think. It does not mean devaluing the contributions of others. Factors to consider are for example that a candidate may be able to serve as a role model for other employees and students and can offer a range of perspectives are also relevant to the position. However, no one should be selected solely because of their membership in any group; similarly, no one should be rejected on that basis.

Further, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) has found that affirmative action programs do not lead to widespread reverse discrimination claims. It also found that a high proportion of claims that are filed lack merit.  These findings refute the charge that affirmative action has helped minorities and women at the expense of white men. The DOL study found that fewer than 200 out of 3,000 discrimination cases filed involved reverse discrimination claims, and in only six cases were such claims substantiated.

What happens if an employer who receives federal funds such as UMKC does not meet Affirmative Action requirements?
A.  Failure to comply with Executive Order 11246 and its nondiscrimination and affirmative action provisions is a violation of an employer’s contract with the government. A contractor in violation of EO 11246 may have its contract canceled, terminated, or suspended, and the contractor may be debarred (i.e. declared ineligible for future government contracts).

Why do we have to send all persons who apply for positions the Applicant Data Form? This is very time consuming and costly for the units.
A.  Although, this information is voluntary and not a condition of employment it is very important for affirmative action purposes, because the forms allow us to compile statistics on the ethnic composition of applicants for the positions we advertise. The information is not given to the hiring departments; it is kept in the Division of Diversity and Inclusion and Human Resources Offices for statistical purposes only.  

As a member of a search committee can I receive information on the race and sex of the candidates we are considering interviewing?
A.  This information is not available to search committees or the hiring units.  The information is used for statistical purposes only to ensure that searches are reaching diverse populations.

Because it is illegal to hire on the basis of race or sex, knowing that information could create legal liability for the university.  Equally important, applicants are told that the information is voluntary, not a condition of employment, and will not be shared with the selecting officials.

When is an Affirmative Action Approval Form required?
A.  All persons who will receive a university paycheck for any length of time must be approved for affirmative action purposes or receive a waiver of the normal hiring procedures.

The affirmative action approval form must be signed or a waiver must be granted prior to an offer being made.

Do direct promotes require the Division of Diversity and Inclusion approval?
A.  Yes. Select the appropriate affirmative action approval form, depending on whether the employee is academic, staff, or student. The name of the employee being promoted should be written on the form where the names of the applicants are usually listed. Indicate “direct promote.”

If the position is being paid with grant money do I need to complete Affirmative Action paperwork?
A.  Yes. All persons who receive a university paycheck regardless of the source of funding must have a completed and approved affirmative action form.