Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: June 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963978 | Print ISBN: 9781412909280 | Online ISBN: 9781412963978| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Peter C. Donnelly
Affirmative action refers to institutional measures taken to increase the representation of women and people of color in areas of employment, government contracts, and higher education from which they have been excluded historically. The policy began as a response to the failure of businesses with government contracts to hire women, persons with disabilities, and minorities. These groups were discriminated against and denied equal access and opportunity. Hence, following the Civil Rights Act of 1964, affirmative action was initiated by Executive Order 11246 by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. The executive order required organizations receiving government funding or contracts to adopt programs to promote the aggressive recruitment and retention of underrep-resented populations. Three major concepts form the basis for affirmative action. First, all of society is strengthened by diversity, equality, and inclusion. Second, preferences for women and minorities help to (a) neutralize unearned advantages that favor the privileged majority and (b) ...