University of California, Berkeley

What Are Diversity, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Affirmative Action?


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Embracing Diversity, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), and Affirmative Action (AA) are three components of UC Berkeley's work toward creating Equity in the Workplace for its employees. Equity in the Workplace is characterized by:

  • A diverse productive workforce
  • A more equitable and accessible work environment
  • An inclusive environment where all employees are valued
  • A work environment free from discrimination
  • A level playing field for employee success

Although there is overlap between Diversity, EEO, and AA, they refer generally to three different areas of activity.

Embracing Diversity refers to a comprehensive organizational and managerial process for developing an environment that maximizes the potential of all employees by valuing diversity. Diversity refers to human qualities that are different from our own and those of groups to which we belong, but are manifested in other individuals and groups. Dimensions of diversity include, but are not limited to: age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, income, marital or partner status, military experience, parental status, religious beliefs, work experience and job classification. (Adapted from Workforce America! Managing Employee Diversity as a Vital Resource by Marilyn Loden and Judy B. Rosener.)

 An approach that embraces diversity:

  • Focuses on developing an environment that maximizes the potential of all employees by valuing diversity interpersonally and institutionally
  • Includes categories broader than those addressed by Affirmative Action (ethnicity, race, gender, disabled status and veteran status)
  • Recognizes and profits from the increasing diversity of the workforce

UC Berkeley is committed to sustaining such an environment, as stated in the University's Principles of Community. For more info on Diversity programs at UC Berkeley, visit the Division of Equity and Inclusion.

Equal Employment Opportunity is a term used by the federal government to refer to employment practices that ensure nondiscrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental ability, religion, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, pregnancy, genetic information, veteran status or age. The principle behind EEO is that everyone should have the same access to opportunities in the workplace.

  • Eliminates discrimination in human resource policies and practices
  • Provides equal access and opportunity - no one excluded from participation

EEO is legally mandated for UC Berkeley due to the University's status as a federal contractor.

Affirmative Action is one aspect of the federal government's efforts to ensure equal employment opportunity for minorities, women, veterans, and individuals with disabilities. It encompasses:

  • Good faith efforts to remedy underutilization,
  • Widespread and diverse outreach in the recruitment process
  • Job-related criteria with minimal adverse or exclusionary impact, and
  • Fair evaluation of all job applicants.

Affirmative Action is legally mandated for UC Berkeley due to the University's status as a federal contractor.

For more info on Affirmative Action at UC Berkeley, visit the Staff Affirmative Action page or the Office for Faculty Equity and Welfare.