Affirmative action

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Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, sex or national origin"[1] into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group at the expense of a majority group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination. The focus of such policies ranges from employment and education to public contracting and health programs. "Affirmative action" is action taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education, and business from which they have been historically excluded.[2]



The term "affirmative action" originated in the United States, and first appeared in President John F. Kennedy's Executive Order 10925. The term was used to refer to measures to achieve non-discrimination. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson issued Executive Order 11246 which required federal contractors to take "affirmative action" to hire without regard to race, religion and national origin. In 1968, gender was added to the anti-discrimination list.[3] Matching procedures in other countries are also known as reservation in India, positive discrimination in the United Kingdom and employment equity in Canada.


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