Berkeley Lab

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office

Affirmative Action Q&A

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s affirmative action responsibilities regarding employees and applicants for employment derive from its status as a federal government contractor. The Laboratory continues to undertake affirmative action for minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and covered veterans to promote equal employment opportunity for these groups. The Laboratory’s employment affirmative action obligations apply to all employees. The following are questions and answers, which summarize the Laboratory’s affirmative action responsibilities.

Q: Does the Laboratory still have an employment affirmative action program?
A: Yes. The Laboratory is a Federal government contractor and therefore is covered by regulations that apply to Federal contractors, which require compliance with affirmative action laws and regulations, including an affirmative action program.

Q: What is an affirmative action program?
A: A central premise underlying affirmative action is that, absent discrimination, over time an employer’s workforce, generally, will reflect the gender, racial, and ethnic profile of the labor pools from which the employer recruits and selects. An affirmative action program is a management tool designed to ensure equal employment opportunity, and includes those policies, practices, and procedures that the Laboratory implements to ensure that all qualified applicants and employees are receiving an equal opportunity for recruitment, selection, advancement, training, development, and every other term, condition, and privilege of employment.

Q: Who is covered by the Laboratory’s employment affirmative action program?
A: Staff employees and applicants for employment are covered by the Laboratory’s affirmative action program.

Q: What employment practices are covered by the Laboratory’s affirmative action program?
A: All Laboratory employment practices are covered, including selection, promotion, compensation, transfer, training and development, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Q: Generally, what does an affirmative action program contain?
A: An affirmative action program contains quantitative analyses designed to evaluate the composition of the Laboratory workforce and compare it to the composition of the relevant external labor pools; action-oriented programs with specific practical steps to address underutilization of minorities and women (if women and minorities are not being employed at a rate to be expected given their availability in the relevant external labor pools); internal auditing and reporting systems to measure the Laboratory’s progress in hiring minorities and women; and mechanisms to monitor the Laboratory’s employment decisions in order to evaluate the impact of those decisions on minorities and women.

Q: Can the Laboratory consider race, ethnicity, or sex in employment practices such as hiring, training, promotion, or compensation?
A: No. Consideration of race, ethnicity, or sex in any employment practice is not permitted under Laboratory policy in compliance with nondiscrimination laws.

Q: Are there any circumstances under which race, ethnicity, or sex can be considered?
A: Yes. Under the Federal regulations, the Laboratory is required to collect and analyze data on the race and sex of employees and applicants for employment, in order to identify areas where the percentage of minorities and women employed is less than would be reasonably expected given their availability. The Laboratory is required to establish placement goals for hiring women and minorities in those areas.

Q: What is the difference between quotas and placement goals?
A: Quotas are either a ceiling or a floor for the employment of minorities or women.
Placement goals are reasonably attainable objectives or targets that are used to measure progress toward achieving equal employment opportunity.

Q: What does the Laboratory do to meet its placement goals?
A: The Laboratory to make good faith efforts to remove identified barriers, expand employment opportunities, and produce measurable results.
Good faith efforts include broad advertising of job openings; supplemental inclusive outreach efforts to ensure that all qualified candidates, including minorities and women, are represented in applicant pools; and careful monitoring of outreach, recruitment, search and selection practices to ensure that equal opportunity is provided at every stage of these processes.

Q: Do good faith efforts include extending preferences in hiring minorities and women when trying to meet placement goals?
A: No. According to the Federal regulations, placement goals do not provide a justification to extend a preference to any individual on the basis of that person’s race, ethnicity, or sex.

Q: Will setting placement goals lead to preferences in hiring?
A: No. According to the Federal regulations, placement goals do not create job set-asides for specific groups, nor are they intended to achieve proportional representation or equal results.

Q: Can the Laboratory hire less qualified individuals in order to meet its placement goals?
A: No. Placement goals may not be used to supersede merit selection principles or as a justification for hiring a less qualified individual in preference to a more qualified individual. The Laboratory’s policy is to select the individual who possesses the qualifications to perform the duties of the position most effectively.

Q: What is the difference between “affirmative action” and “diversity”?
A: “Affirmative Action ”refers to a variety of actions specifically required by Federal affirmative action regulations designed to ensure equal employment opportunity. Affirmative action is undertaken for minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and covered veterans (special disabled veterans, recently separated veterans, Vietnam era veterans, and any other veterans who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized), although setting placement goals applies to minorities and women only. “Diversity ”refers to the broader Laboratory community value of appreciating the contributions of all employees. A diverse workforce is one which includes the demographic groups reflected in the general population, encompassing differences in race, ethnicity, sex, religion, national origin, age, physical/mental abilities, marital status, parental status, veteran status, sexual orientation, socioeconomic level, educational background, lifestyle, and the myriad of all other demographic characteristics. Valuing diversity in the workplace leads to an environment, which maximizes the potential of all employees.

Q: How can the Laboratory express its value of diversity in employment practices?
A: All employees, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, etc., can be encouraged to support the Laboratory’s values of diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace. Job advertisements can state that a requirement for the position is experience and skills necessary for working in a multi-cultural environment or with a racially and ethnically diverse service population. Employees who demonstrate good cross-cultural skills or take initiative to promote diversity programs can be rewarded through performance evaluations, and special recognition programs.

Q: Can advertisements for Laboratory positions specifically encourage minorities and women to apply?
A: Yes. Advertisements must state that all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Laboratory policy requires that advertisements must also state that the Lab is an “Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer ”or that “All qualified applicants, including minorities and women, are encouraged to apply.”

Q: Are managers accountable for meeting affirmative action objectives?
A: Yes. Managers and supervisors at all levels are responsible for understanding the Laboratory’s affirmative action program and making good faith efforts toward providing equal opportunity in the workplace.

Q: What are the Lab’s policies on employment nondiscrimination and affirmative action, and where can they be located?
A: Our equal opportunity/affirmative action policy, as stated by Policy and Procedure Memo dated, May 15, 2009, on behalf of the Laboratory Director:

Employees are reminded that it is the Laboratory’s policy to ensure equal employment opportunity to all employees and job applicants. The Laboratory will not engage in discriminatory practices against any person employed or seeking employment because of race, color, religion, marital status, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, medical condition (cancer-related or genetic characteristics), age, citizenship, or status as a covered veteran, special disabled veteran, Vietnam-era veteran, veteran who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized, or any veteran during the one-year period that begins on the date of such veteran’s discharge or release from active duty. This applies to all personnel actions, including hiring, transfer, training, promotion, termination, and other terms and conditions of employment. The Laboratory’s policy is to take affirmative action, through formally written affirmative action plans, for minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, special disabled veterans, Vietnam-era veterans, and any other veteran who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized.

The complete text of the Laboratory’s policy on affirmative action and equal employment opportunity may be found in Regulations and Procedures Manual §2.01(A).

Q: Where is the Laboratory’s Affirmative Action Plan for covered veterans and people with disabilities?
A: The AAP can be accessed here.

Q: Who can be contacted for more information about the Laboratory’s policies on affirmative action and nondiscrimination?
A: Michelle Scanlon, Interim  Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Manager, Tel. 510-486-5057