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Frequently Asked Questions - Equity

Affirmative Action FAQs

What is the difference between equal employment opportunity and affirmative action?

Equal employment opportunity prohibits discrimination against anyone. Its primary objective is to ensure that all applicants and employees, regardless of their protected characteristics (e.g., color, race, religion, sex), have a fair opportunity in the hiring process and in competing for promotions and have equal access to educational training and professional development opportunities. Equal employment opportunity is a passive principle that requires only fairness in treatment. Affirmative action goes beyond non-discrimination. Whereas equal opportunity is passive, affirmative action is positive, constructive action. The general premise underlying affirmative action is that absent discrimination, over time an employer's workforce, generally, will reflect the gender, racial, and national origin/ethnicity profile of the labor pools from which the employer recruits and hires its employees. Affirmative action attempts to compensate for past discriminatory practices by requiring federal contractors to engage in "good faith efforts" to expand outreach to and recruitment of women, minorities, persons with disabilities and certain protected veterans, thereby making them aware of employment opportunities and providing access to be able to pursue such opportunities.

What is an Affirmative Action Plan?

An Affirmative Action Plan is a written document containing information and analyses of a federal contractor's workforce. The Affirmative Action Plan is comprised of four sections: the Utilization Analysis; the Workforce Analysis; the Goal and Timetables; and the Narrative. The first three sections include employee data, national census data, and faculty availability data. This data is used to analyze the demographics of the University's workforce in relation to the demographics of qualified and available individuals in the relevant labor pool (e.g., local, regional). This data is used to determine what group(s) are underutilized in a given job group and to establish placement goals to address the underutilization. The plan's narrative details problem areas that may impede or limit opportunities in all job groups at all levels of the organization, as well as the University's commitment and efforts to remedy these inequities and remove barriers.

What is an Affirmative Action Program?

An Affirmative Action Program is a management tool designed to ensure equal employment opportunity. It includes the policies, practices, and procedures the University implements to address underutilization in its workforce and to ensure that all qualified applicants and employees receive an equal opportunity for recruitment, retention, selection, advancement, training, development, and every other condition and privilege of employment.

For whom is affirmative action taken?

The University must undertake affirmative action for minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and covered veterans. The analyses in an Affirmative Action Plan, however, cover only minorities and women.

Does affirmative action require quotas?

No. Using quotas for employment decisions is illegal. Rather, an Affirmative Action Plan contains placement goals to assist the employer in addressing any existing underutilization of women and minorities in its workforce.

What is underutilization?

Underutilization exists when fewer women and minorities are employed in job groups than would be expected given their availability (with the requisite skills to perform the job) in the relevant labor pools.

What constitutes "good faith effort" to address underutilization?

Federal contractors must: identify and remove barriers that negatively affect underutilized groups; support inclusion through respect for and equal dignity to all persons; review recruitment strategies to ensure focused outreach is occurring; and put forth retention efforts and provide professional development opportunities for underutilized groups equal to the efforts and opportunities afforded others in the workforce.

Does affirmative action require goals?

Yes. Placement goals are required for women and minorities when underutilization exists. Placement goals are objectives that the employer works toward by applying good faith effort.

What happens if the University does not meet its placement goals?

While placement goals are important, the demonstration of a good faith effort to achieve those goals is more important. As a federal contractor, the University must be able to show that it has taken vigorous, active, measureable steps to ensure that qualified women and minorities are included in its applicant pools and be able to objectively demonstrate that the selection process was fair and consistent.

Does affirmative action require a federal contractor to hire a less-qualified applicant to meet a placement goal?

No. All employment decisions must be based on merit. Basing an employment action on race, national origin/ethnicity, sex, or any criteria other than qualifications is generally prohibited.


Demographic Information Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer, the University is required to solicit demographic information from applicants, as well as faculty and staff. A variety of federal and state laws and regulations mandate the University to capture this information. Provision of this information is strictly voluntary and confidential. Electing not to provide this information will in no way subject an applicant or employee to adverse action. The following FAQs contain additional information with respect to the demographic areas for which an applicant or employee is asked to self-identify and how the data is used by the University.

Why does the University ask about my gender?

There are three primary reasons why the University requests gender information from job applicants, faculty, and staff. As a recipient of federal research funding, the University is a federal contractor and subject to Title 41, Part 60 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This regulation requires that the University collect gender information from job applicants, as well as all employed faculty and staff, in order to engage in affirmative action analysis of personnel processes, such as recruitment, hiring, promotions, and terminations. In accordance with the Higher Education Act of 1965, the University must annually report the gender of its faculty and staff to the U.S. Department of Education through the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS). As an institution of higher education, this report is comparable to reports made to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) via the EEO-1 survey. The University, as an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia, also is subject to various state policies and regulations that require the University to collect and maintain gender information. Voluntary provision of gender information by individuals is the most preferred method for obtaining this data. However, it is important to note that the above-referenced federal and state record keeping obligations require the University to obtain gender information even when an individual refuses to self-identify. In such situations, the University will seek to obtain the required information from other employment records and/or visual identification. Such practices are in alignment with the EEOC Guidance.

Why is the University offering an option for voluntary self-identification of sexual orientation and gender identity in Workday?

The University is offering our workforce the opportunity to voluntarily self-identify sexual orientation and/or gender identity in Workday to enable the University to better understand how many LGBTQ+ individuals are in our workforce and how their employment experiences compare to non-LGBTQ+ workers (e.g., LGBTQ+ representation in management and leadership positions, promotional opportunities, separation trends). This data will assist the University’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (EOCR) to use the data gathered to ensure the LGBTQ+ employee experience is taken into account in a meaningful way in policy and program development and improvements, to ensure equitable treatment of employees without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.

How are Gender and Gender Identity different in Workday?

Gender is the sex binary of female or male for the purposes of state and federal recordkeeping and reporting requirements. The Gender Identity field allows for a non-binary gender identification to be made and recognizes a range of different gender identities. This includes options such as: Genderqueer, Non-binary or Gender Non-conforming, Trans, or "other identity". Workday cannot currently except user identified values such that unfortunately, there is not a "write-in" option at this time.

What options are available to specify sexual orientation in Workday?

There are currently eight selection options for sexual orientation. They are: Asexual, Bisexual, Gay or Lesbian, Heterosexual or straight, Queer, Questioning, or "Other Orientation". As with the options listed for Gender Identity, EOCR and UHR will continue to evaluate the options available and make changes on the basis of community input.

Am I protected from discrimination and harassment based on my sexual orientation and/or gender identity?

The University’s Notice of Non-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Statement and its Policies on Preventing and Addressing Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation and associated procedures ensure equitable treatment, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and prohibit discrimination, harassment, or retaliation based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The University’s Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence (Title IX Policy) and associated procedures prohibits sexual and gender-based harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. For further information about these policies, visit the University’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights website at https://eocr.virginia.edu/.

Why does the University ask about my race/ethnicity?

Race/ethnicity data must be collected in the categories identified by the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The U.S. Department of Education Integrated Post-Secondary Data System (IPEDS) maintains a website outlining the categories. There are three primary reasons why the University requests race/ethnicity information from job applicants, faculty, and staff. As a recipient of federal research funding, the University is a federal contractor and subject to Title 40, Part 60 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This regulation requires that the University collect race/ethnicity information from applicants, as well as all employed faculty and staff, in order to engage in affirmative action analysis of personnel processes, such as recruitment, hiring, promotions, and terminations. In accordance with the Higher Education Act of 1965, the University must annually report race/ethnicity of its faculty and staff to the U.S. Department of Education through IPEDS. As an institution of higher education, this report is comparable to reports made to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) via the EEO-1 survey. The University, as an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia, also is subject to the various state policies and regulations that require the University to collect and maintain race/ethnicity information. Voluntary provision of race/ethnicity by individuals is the most preferred method for obtaining this data. However, it is important to note that the above-referenced federal and state record keeping obligations require the University to obtain race/ethnicity information even when an individual refuses to self-identify. In such situations, the University will seek to obtain the required information from other employment records and/or visual identification. Such  practices are in alignment with EEOC Guidance.

Why does the University ask about my veteran and protected veteran status?

There are three primary reasons why the University requests veteran and protected veteran status information from job applicants, faculty, and staff. Section 2.2-2903 of the Code of Virginia establishes a veteran's preference in hiring, which means that the University must request this information from job applicants in order to apply a preference. The preference applies to any veteran who has served at least 180 consecutive days in any branch of the arm services and received an other than dishonorable discharge. The surviving spouse and/or child of a U.S. military service member killed in the line of duty also is eligible for the preference. As a recipient of federal research funding, the University is a federal contractor and subject to the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) and its implementing regulation found in Title 41, Part 60-250 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This regulation requires that the University collect "protected" veteran status information from applicants, as well as faculty and staff, in order to engage in affirmative action analysis of personnel processes, such as recruitment, hiring, promotions, and terminations. A "protected" veteran is a disabled veteran, a recently separated veteran, an Active Duty Wartime or Campaign Badge veteran, or an Armed Forces Service Medal veteran. Protected veterans are a smaller subset of the overall military veteran population. The U.S. Department of Labor Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) requires, in accordance with Title 41, Park 60-250 of the CFR, federal contractors to annually report on their affirmative action efforts in employing veterans.

Why does the University ask about my disability status?

As a recipient of federal research funding, the University is a federal contractor and subject to Title 41, Part 60-741 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This regulation requires that the University collect disability information from applicants, as well as employed faculty and staff, in order to engage in affirmative action analysis of personnel processes such as recruitment, hiring, promotions, and terminations. Additional information is available on the website of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

Who sees my demographic information and how is it used?

Demographic information is treated confidentially to the extent permitted by federal and state laws. Job Applicants: Demographic information collected in the applicant/candidate profile portion of the online application is maintained separately from the application materials that are reviewed during the hiring process. Hiring officials and search committee members do not have access to individually identified demographic data at any time during or after the recruitment and hiring processes. The only exception is veteran status, which is accessible for the sole purpose of applying the Virginia Veteran Preference in accordance with Section 2.2-2903 of the Code of Virginia. Faculty & Staff: Demographic information is similarly maintained confidentially and is not accessible by management or supervisory personnel. Reporting: In keeping with the confidential nature of this information, whenever the University reports on demographic data of University faculty, staff, and job applicants - either internally or externally - the information is produced in the aggregate and de-identified from individuals. The University of Virginia does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status, and family medical or genetic information, in its programs and activities as required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, the Governor’s Executive Order Number One (2014), and other applicable statutes and University policies. The University of Virginia prohibits sexual and gender-based harassment, including sexual assault, and other forms of interpersonal violence.Your provision of demographic data allows the University to engage in critical analysis of the workforce and personnel processes that are crucial to the fulfillment of the University's goals of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action.

Who has access to the sexual orientation and gender identity data?

Safeguarding an employee’s identities is the first priority. This data is a confidential personnel record. Access to the information is limited to the University’s Human Resources technology security personnel charged with administering the personnel database. That access is necessary to provide the data to EOCR in order to engage in analysis on the basis of workforce characteristics at levels of aggregations that preserve confidentiality (ex. institution-wide representation levels, faculty representation by tenure status without identification of school or area, etc.). This information is not accessible by your supervisor, departmental HR business partner or employee relations staff,unless those individuals are part of the limited group identified above.

How do I enter or update my demographic information in Workday?

In Workday click on your profile image in the top right corner. In the drop-down menu that appears, click "View Profile" that appears directly under your name. This will provide a list of options to select that will show up on the left of your screen. The "Personal Information" tab will be displayed on the screen. When you click on the "Edit" button, the "Change Personal Information" page will appear where you can add or edit many of the demographic fields. The Veteran Status and Disability Status fields cannot be edited from this section. When you "View Profile" you will also see an "Action" button underneath your name. Click on "Action" and select "Change Veteran Status" or "Change Disability Status" to update that demographic information.