Affirmative Action

MIT is committed to the principle of equal opportunity in education and employment.

Why Does MIT Engage in Affirmative Action in Employment?

MIT's commitment to equity in employment drives the Institute not only to prevent and address discrimination, but also to take proactive steps to ensure equal employment opportunities. This commitment also drives the Institute to measure how well its employee population reflects the larger workforce and whether various populations experience employment actions (such as promotions) at similar rates.

Fortunately, the federal government provides a set of tools MIT can use to ensure our policies and measurement practices are robust. In fact, because MIT receives substantial funding from the US government, the Institute is required by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to use these tools, which together are referred to as Affirmative Action.

What is Affirmative Action in Employment?

Affirmative Action is a management tool designed by the US government to ensure equal employment opportunities for women, ethnic/racial minorities, certain military veterans, and individuals with disabilities. Because simply ending discrimination would lock in past inequities, laws require those employers subject to Affirmative Action laws to take proactive actions to ensure equal opportunities (without resorting to preferential treatment, which is generally prohibited).

MIT, as a federal contractor, must produce and carry out an Affirmative Action plan annually. In order to focus efforts where they are needed, MIT analyzes employment data for groups of related jobs in each MIT School and area. Specifically, any gender- or race-based disparities in rates of hiring, promotion, or termination are investigated and addressed through actions as warranted. In addition, wherever a significant gap is found between MIT's employee demographics and the demographics of the larger qualified workforce, a “placement goal” or target (not a quota) is established. Aiming at this target for hiring and promotions should shrink the gap over time. School/Area administrators (Touchstone required) carefully plan actions that will maximize the chances of attaining each target -- actions such as targeted recruitment, pipeline development, and manager training. Finally, MIT evaluates the effectiveness of each year’s actions, to inform the next year's plans.

What Can I Do?

As a manager

  • When you plan to post an opening, ask your HR administrator or Administrative Officer whether the job is subject to a placement goal and, if so, what steps you should take.
  • Examine your decisions around hiring, promotions, assignments, and termination to ensure they enable equal employment opportunities.

As an HR Partner

  • Work with your Affirmative Action Administrator (Touchstone required) to learn about where placement goals or other disparities exist within your area and to take action in response.
  • Ask your Affirmative Action Administrator about access to the Enriching Diversity tool, where you can evaluate whether the demographics of an open req’s applicant pool warrant further recruiting.
  • Consult with central HR staff, who are always available to help you understand your plans and to assist you in recruiting and retaining an exceptional workforce.

As an Affirmative Action Administrator

  • Explore our Affirmative Action resources, including the training slides that end with a list of your responsibilities.
  • Use the Enriching Diversity tool to access your AAP reports and review the demographics of applicant pools. Encourage your HR Partners to use it as well.
  • Consult with our Affirmative Action Specialist, who is always available to help you understand your AAP reports and make effective plans in response.

Where Can I Learn More?