Why Affirmative Employment



What do Foresters, biologists, archaeologists and computer specialists in the Forest Service have in common?    They are among jobs being occupied with the lowest shares of minority workers.  How about clerical?  These jobs are among those occupied by the highest number of minority employees.


These are two reasons why the Forest Service should voluntarily seek more women, minorities and persons with disabilities, says Linda LeBlanc, Affirmative Employment Manager.  First, she says, affirmative employment is a "positive way of acquiring  a skilled work force."  Second, "affirmative employment produces good public relations with customers who are increasingly minority".


An affirmative employment plan is used by an agency to improve the quality of its work force.  In developing an affirmative employment plan an assessment is made of the agency's present utilitzation of  women, minority and disabled employees in each job category.  Then a determination is made of the percentage of minorities with the skills, knowledge and ability to do the job where the work force is recruited, Ms. LeBlanc explains.


When there is a significantly smaller percentage present in any job category than those who are available with the requisite job skills, you set up a plan of action to close the gap, she says.  "Affirmative employment planning, as with all other aspects of management by objective, sets a specific goal and timetable for reaching the goal".


And how does affirmative employment planning benefit Forest Service managers?  "Proactive managers who evaluate, plan, and limit roadblocks to success for minorities, women and person with disabilities often find that the effectiveness of all employees multiplies," she concluded.


























1.  What is affirmative employment?


Affirmative employment programs seek to increase the recruitment, promotion,  retention, and on-the-job training opportunities for women, minorities and persons with disabililties and remove barriers to recruitment and retention.


2.  What are the goals of the Affirmative Employment Plan?


The AEP is designed to eliminate underrepresentation of women, minorities and persons with disabilities, and identify programs to conduct affirmative recruitment for underrepresented occupations and pay grades.  The plan includes a comprehensive work force analysis by occupational cateogies, grade groupings and series.  It identifies barriers to the recruitment and retention of underrepresenmted groups and identifies action items to eliminate those barriers.


3.  Who is responsible for implementing the AEP?


Supervisors and managers are responsible for implementing the AEP.


4.  Why doesn't the Forest Service AEP include an analysis of underrepresentation for persons with disabilities?


There is no data available on the civilian labor force (CLF) for persons with disabilities by individual grade categories and groupings.  Without this data an analysis cannot be made.


5.  Why should managers support affirmative employment?


Managers should support affirmative employment programs to ensure that the legacy of past and continuing discrimination that has so negatively affected opportunities in the past not affect present day educational, employment and hiring decisions.


6.  Does the  1995 Supreme Court decision (Adarand Constructors, Inc. vs. Pena) affect affirmative employment in government agencies?


Yes.  The Adarand decision established that any governmental action that uses race or ethnicity as a basis for decisionmaking will be subject to "strict scrutiny," meaning that there must be a "compelling government interest" for implementing affirmative employment programs.  The decision further states that such programs must be "narrowly tailored " to address the effects of discrimination.


In the case of the Forest Service, proof of severe underrepresentation in a specific grouping or job category means that the agency can pass the "scrict scrutiny" test.  And by using the "relevant" civilian labor force (CLF) " as opposed to the "general" CLF the Forest Service is making legal use of affirmative employment programs.


7.  How is the Justice Department evaluating  Federal affirmative employment programs in light of the Adarand decision?


Federal programs are being evaluated on several criteria:  programs that engage in quotas, reverse discrimination, or preferences for unqualified individuals, as well as programs that have met their goals, are being eliminated or changed. 


8.  What is the legal basis for affirmative employment?


A number of statutes and other sources of law permit affirmative employment programs.  Among others, Title VII of the Civil Rights (CR) Acts of 1964, which prohibits discrimination by any employer or a labor union on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, provides the legal basis for affirmative employment.  Executive Order (E.O.) 11246, signed in 1965, bars discrimination on  the basis of race, color, religion or national origin in federal employment or in employment by federal contractors and subcontrators.  E.O. 11375, signed in 1967, expanded 11246 to include women.  Title VI of the CR Laws of 1964 provides the legal basis for race-based affirmative aciton in federally-funded programs.  Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 permits affirmative action based on gender in public education.  In addition, affirmative employment programs have been based directly on the Equal Protection Clause of the federal constitution.