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What is Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action?

Many of us have heard of the terms Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action. But how many of us truly understand the principles of EEO and AA and why they exist. Perhaps there are those who think that EEO and AA mean the same.

Equal Employment Opportunity prohibits discrimination against anyone. It attempts to ensure that all applicants, males-females and all races have a fair opportunity in a hiring process, in competing for promotions, and equal access to training/professional development opportunities.

As for Affirmative Action, it is a remedy to address past practices of discrimination. Affirmative Action was designed to level the playing field for females, individuals with disabilities and minorities. The minorities group includes Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and American Native Indians.

Affirmative Action does not mean that managers are expected to hire unqualified applicants. Additionally, Affirmative Action quotas are not automatic. The implementation of quotas must be ordered by a court of law. A true quota situation has rarely occurred across the United States. Affirmative Action is usually implemented as a voluntary goal oriented program.

In all hiring situations, EEO principles should be applied to every vacancy being filled. Remember, while there is a difference between EEO and AA, they do have one thing in common: they are both about fairness!