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Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity

Affirmative Action Plan

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 What is an Affirmative Action Plan?

* Note:  all language is that used by the government in the AAP order

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) offers to all persons equal access to educational, programmatic and employment opportunities without regard to age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy, gender identity, genetic information, religion, race, color, national origin, and/or veteran status pursuant to applicable state and federal law.  It is the responsibility of all persons making employment decisions to support this policy and ensure the work environment is free from discrimination as established in the University’s Affirmative Action Plan.

An Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) is a requirement of Executive Order (E.O.) 11246 (as amended, the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA), as amended, 38 U.S.C. 4212 and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 503), as amended), which mandates organizations that receive federal money must take positive actions to ensure equal opportunities exist in every aspect of the employment process.

An AAP is a management tool designed to ensure equal employment opportunity for minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities.*   Affirmative Action is based on the premise that over time and absent discrimination the University’s workforce will reflect the ethnic, racial and gender make-up of the labor markets used to recruit applicants. 


•        USM is required to conduct annual workforce analyses of:   

–       Representation of women and minorities compared to the representation of the available workforce for each EEO job category for each campus. 

EEO job categories: 1) Executive/Managerial, 2) Faculty, 3) Professional, 4) Clerical, 5) Technical/Paraprofessional 6) Skilled Craft 7) Service Maintenance

–       Representation of veterans and individuals with disabilities compared with a benchmark.

•        Identify areas of underrepresentation and create goals for improvement.  Any area where USM’s workforce has less representation of the covered groups than the available labor market is considered “underutilization,” or a gap. Gaps are then translated into goals for improvement.

•        Make “good faith efforts” to achieve our goals.

Note that the AAP analysis looks at the available labor market of each job category and not general population statistics. For example, the Skilled Craft category tends to have a greater proportion of males in the labor market, so the goal for female representation is likely lower than it would be for a category such as Clerical, which tends to have a much higher female representation in the labor market.

 Goals are not quotas and therefore are not required to be achieved.  The reason for this is that diversity efforts cannot be contrary to federal law which states that you cannot discriminate based on a protected class.  If USM were to only consider women or minorities for employment based on a goal we would be discriminating against white males, which is a group also protected by Title XII.  Therefore, the AAP focuses its attention on the creation and achievement of “good faith efforts.”

USM’s obligation under the AAP is to make “good faith efforts” to achieve its goals by increasing the pool of qualified minority, female, veteran and disabled candidates when recruiting for open positions.  USM identifies good faith efforts as part of its AAP each year. Examples include:

·        Displaying EEO posters prominently in the workplace

·        Analyzing all job descriptions to ensure minimum qualifications are accurately reflected

·        Reviewing minimum qualifications of similar positions to ensure consistency across departments

·        Utilizing the Mississippi Department of Employment Services, job fairs and recruiting programs sponsored by local community colleges and other community organizations to source applicants

·        Identifying and utilizing targeted recruitment sites for qualified minority and female applicants

 The AAP is not a diversity strategy but data that may be used to inform a diversity strategy.  For example, the most current USM AAP does not show “black faculty” as a goal area, meaning that our representation mirrors that of the available workforce.  Even though the AAP does not indicate that we have underrepresentation in faculty, USM may still desire such a diversity strategy but now informed that our strategies have to be more robust than simply recruitment focused as there is a lack of diversity in the pipeline to be recruited from.

·        Partner with University Human Resources to ensure job descriptions and postings are consistent with similar jobs across the University and accurately reflect appropriate minimum qualifications.

·        Adhere to University hiring policies (such as posting).

·        Utilize the staff and faculty hiring toolkits.

·        Partner with the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity (AA/EEO) to identify diversity recruitment resources to source applicants.

·        Ensure all participants in the hiring process receive training.

·        Consider diversity when selecting committee members.

·        Do not make any employment decisions based on a protected class.

·        Notify AA/EEO of any efforts being made to improve diversity in representation or to improve diversity in representation or to ensure compensation is equitable.

·        Ensure all leaders attend AA 101 training to understand their AA/EEO responsibilities.

The Office of AA/EEO schedules annual training with leadership to review the AAP.


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Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity

310 McLemore Hall (MCL)
118 College Dr. #5111
Hattiesburg, MS 39406


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