Frequently Asked Affirmative Action Questions

Q:What is the difference between "affirmative action" and "diversity"? How does "affirmative action" relate to "diversity"?

A: Affirmative action is a legal obligation for UC as a federal contractor. Affirmative action refers to specific efforts undertaken by the University, such as supplemental outreach, designed to promote equal employment opportunity and to create diverse pools of applicants for University positions. Affirmative action is applicable to minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, veterans with disabilities, recently separated veterans, Vietnam era veterans, veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Military, Ground, Naval or Air Service during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized, or Armed Forces service medal veterans. The setting of goals for correcting underutilization applies to minorities and women only.

Workforce diversity is an organizational and managerial process for developing an environment which maximizes and values the potential of all employees. Diversity is a desirable and organizational objective but is not a federally mandated obligation. A diverse workforce is one which reflects all demographic groups that comprise the general population, encompassing race, ethnicity and gender as well as religion, national origin, age, physical/mental abilities, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, socioeconomic level, educational background, lifestyle, and all other demographic characteristics.

Diversity is broader in its implications than affirmative action because it encompasses all individuals in the various demographic groups found in the general population.

Q: Does Proposition 209 eliminate employment affirmative action at the University?

A: No. UC is a federal contractor and is obligated to comply with federal laws and regulations regarding affirmative action. These obligations include good faith efforts to create diverse pools of applicants for UC positions; developing and implementing affirmative action plans which identify areas of underutilization of minorities and women; ensuring equal opportunity processes and demonstrating good faith efforts to eliminate underutilization.

Q. What is underutilization?

A: Underutilization is when you have fewer people in your workforce than would be expected, given the availability of women and minorities, with skills to do our jobs, in the labor pool.

Q: How is faculty availability determined?

A: When a faculty member is hired, the department or division assigns a discipline specialty code developed by the National Opinion Research Council (NORC) at the University of Chicago. This organization annually collects nationwide data on Ph.D. recipients by specialty who are US citizens and permanent residents thus creating a longitudinal availability dataset.

Each year the Office for Equity and Equal Protection matches each faculty's specialty codes and rank to a PhD availability based on NORC data. The 2011-12 tenured availability was drawn from the NORC dataset for 1990-2004 and the untenured availability from NORC 2005-2009.

When determining availability for a department, the faculty are grouped by their primary department and the assigned availabilities are averaged. This weighted average takes into account the degree to which specific specialties are represented in the department. For divisional availability, the faculty are grouped by rank before the weighted average is calculated. As an example, 33% of Earth Sciences faculty have a specialty code of Geophysics and Seismology and are tenured. Therefore, 33% of the availability for this department comes from geology and seismology Ph.D.'s who graduated between 1990 and 2004.

Q: How is career staff availability determined?

A: The first step in determining staff workforce availability is to align staff job titles into job groups. UCSC currently has 20 job groups. A zip code analysis of previous applicants is done to determine the unique recruitment area for each job group. Then, using U.S. census data separated by federal occupation codes, we determine how many people from each racial/ethnic group and women are available in the specific recruitment area for the job group. A percentage of existing staff to account for promotional opportunities. The census data and existing staff representation data together produce the final availability.

Q: How can a diverse University workforce be achieved without taking into consideration race, ethnicity, sex, etc.?

A: Although Prop. 209 prohibits consideration of race, ethnicity, gender, etc. in UC's employment practices, the Regents support outreach and recruitment efforts as a means for achieving workforce diversity. By making efforts to reach and recruit qualified minority and women applicants, UC can make progress towards achieving a diverse workforce through affirmative action.

See UCSC Staff HR website for staff recruitment resources: