Common Terms

Adverse Impact

A disparity in selection for hiring or promotion that disadvantages individuals of a particular race, sex, or ethnic group.

Affirmative Action

A federal agenda initiated in the 1960s that is designed to counteract historic discrimination faced by ethnic minorities, women, and other underrepresented groups.

Institutions with affirmative action programs prioritize inclusion of minority groups in employment, retention, and promotion.

Affirmative Action Compliance

Emory is a federal contractor and is obligated to comply with federal laws and regulations regarding affirmative action. These obligations include:

  • Ensuring diverse pools of applicants for campus positions
  • Developing and maintaining affirmative action plans that identify areas of underutilization of minorities and women, and
  • Demonstrating good-faith efforts to eliminate underutilization

Affirmative Action Plan

As part of an affirmative action program, a covered employer must create and implement an affirmative action plan that must be reviewed annually. During the annual review, employers analyze the results of their existing hiring processes to determine if adjustments need to be made to prevent potential discrimination or adverse impact against women and minorities. The goal of any such plan is a comprehensive, results-oriented program designed to achieve equal employment opportunity rather than merely to ensure nondiscrimination.

Emory University's plan year runs from November 1 through October 31.

Affirmative Action Program

A program implemented to establish guidelines for recruiting and selection processes in a good-faith effort to promote and maintain a fair and equal workforce.

Affirmative Recruitment

Special recruitment efforts undertaken to ensure that qualified protected-class members are well represented in the applicant pools for positions from or in which they have been excluded or substantially underutilized.

Such efforts may include contacting organizations and media with known protected-class constituencies. Open job posting and advertising and "equal opportunity employer" statements necessary in many situations are matters of nondiscrimination rather than measures of affirmative recruitment.

Applicant Pool Statistics

These statistics reflect the race, ethnicity, and gender of all applicants in an applicant pool. They are based on each applicant's self-reported diversity demographics.

Availability Analysis

The statistical estimate of the proportion and numbers of minorities and women available in the relevant job market who possess the training and skills necessary to qualify for employment.

Availability analysis also involves calculation of the percentage of minorities or women within the organization who are considered promotable, transferable, and trainable.


As defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, a "person with a disability" is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, or concentrating. The documentation provided regarding the disability diagnosis must demonstrate a disability covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, amended as of 2008.

See also "Individual with a Disability."


Diversity simply means that each individual is unique and recognizing our individual differences. There are varied dimensions of differences: race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs or other ideologies, global locations, and cultures.

Our university goal is to embrace, understand, and celebrate the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual. Diversity also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.


An intentional or unintentional act that adversely affects employment opportunities because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, marital status, national origin, or other factors such as age


Required before any accommodation can be offered, documentation of disability should consist of an evaluation by an appropriate professional.

A clear statement of the diagnosis, the basis for the diagnosis, and the current impact of the disability as it relates to the accommodation request must be included.

Election Process

Any measure, combination of measures, or procedure used as a basis for any employment decision.

The election process commonly consists of minimum qualifications, test(s), an employment interview, and a probationary period.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)

Attempts to ensure that all applicants and employees have a fair opportunity in the hiring process and in competing for promotions and equal access to training/professional development opportunities.

EEO: Placement Goals

Reasonably attainable numerical projections or targets that are used to measure progress toward achieving equal employment opportunity for women and minorities.

A placement goal is established for a job group when the percentage of women or minorities employed in that particular job group is less than reasonably would be expected given their availability percentage.

EEO: Good-Faith Efforts

Specific actions taken and documented by an employer to meet affirmative action goals or deliver a successful affirmative action program.

EEO: Protected Class

Groups that are specifically protected against employment discrimination.

EEO: Reasonable Accommodation

Any change to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that allows a qualified individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform job functions, or enjoy equal access to benefits available to other individuals in the workplace.

Emory University is required by law to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship to the institution.

EEO: Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Prohibits discrimination in programs receiving federal funds on the basis of disability

EEO: Section 503

Requires affirmative action be taken to provide employment opportunities for qualified persons with disabilities by employers receiving $2,500 or more in federal funds.

EEO: Section 504

Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs receiving federal funds, and requires reasonable accommodation of qualified persons with disabilities except in cases where undue hardship is shown.


Equity is the guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all students, faculty, and staff, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The guiding principle of equity acknowledges that there are underserved and underrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups.

Executive Order 11246

Prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, religion, national origin, and color.


Gender is a socially constructed system of classification that ascribes qualities of masculinity and femininity to people. Gender characteristics can change over time and are different between cultures. Words that refer to gender include man, woman, transgender, masculine, feminine, and gender queer. Gender also refers to one's sense of self as masculine or feminine, regardless of external genitalia. Gender is often conflated with sex; however, this is inaccurate, because sex refers to bodies and gender refers to personality characteristics.


An accommodation imposes an undue hardship on the university if it constitutes an undue financial and administrative burden on the university, or it requires a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program.

An employer does not have to provide an accommodation if doing so would cause an undue hardship to the employer.

Historically Underrepresented

This term refers to groups who have been denied access and/or suffered past institutional discrimination in the United States and, according to the Census and other federal measuring tools, includes African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics or Chicanos/Latinos, and Native Americans.

This is revealed by an imbalance in the representation of different groups in common pursuits such as education, jobs, and housing, resulting in marginalization for some groups and individuals and not for others, relative to the number of individuals who are members of the population involved. Other groups in the United States have been marginalized and are currently underrepresented. These groups may include but are not limited to:

  • Other ethnicities
  • Adult learners
  • Veterans
  • People with disabilities
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals
  • Different religious groups, and
  • Different economic backgrounds


At Emory, inclusion integrates all aspects of diversity and it is the "intentional and ongoing engagement with diversity" in an intellectual environment as well as in the context of social and cultural diversity in which inclusion connects people in ways that increase one's awareness, knowledge, sophistication, and understanding of the complex ways we interact and engage.

Individual with a Disability

Any person who:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
  • Has a record of such impairment, or
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment

Legally, any physical impairment that substantially limits any major life activities or substantially limits operation of any major bodily functions or organs is considered to be a disability.

See also "Disability."


A modification changes instruction or requirements in order to remediate a skill deficit in one or more areas.

Sexual Harassment

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

  • Submission to the conduct is either an explicit or implicit term or condition of employment;
  • Submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as a basis for employment affecting the person rejecting or submitting to the conduct; or
  • The conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an affected person's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation is the deep-seated direction of one's sexual (erotic) attraction toward the same gender, opposite gender, or other genders. It is on a continuum and not a set of absolute categories.

Social Justice

An inclusive and diverse community that challenges injustice, affords equitable access to resources and affirms and appreciates our differences as members of the Emory community.

Title VII (Civil Rights Act of 1964)

Civil rights legislation that outlawed employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

This legislation also ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, the workplace, and facilities that served the general public.

Title Ix (of the 1972 Educational Amendments to the Higher Education Act)

Prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions receiving federal funds and covers programs and activities including student loans and scholarships, access to courses, housing, health services, athletics, career services, and publications.

Underrepresented Students

This group includes underserved students (African American/Black, Asian, Hispanic, American Indian, and multiracial) individuals plus first-generation students and low-income students. In specific instances, other groups of students may be considered underrepresented. For example, in a traditionally female discipline, males may be considered underrepresented.


Underserved populations are ones that are disadvantaged in relation to other groups because of structural/societal obstacles and disparities.

At Emory, "underserved" applies to accessibility to education.

Underserved Students

These students traditionally have been excluded from full participation in society and its institutions. The basis of exclusion has primarily been race and color and has included African American/Black, Asian, Hispanic, American Indian, and multiracial individuals.

Underutilization, Underrepresentation

Term used to describe a situation wherein a lower number of protected-class employees are represented than would be reasonably expected given their availability in the relevant job market.

Once underutilization is quantitatively established, an employer must:

  • Demonstrate that the underutilization results from business necessity, or
  • Develop an affirmative action program with specific, action-oriented steps to overcome this underutilization


A person who served in the Armed Forces of the United States during a period specified and was honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances. Armed Forces is defined as the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard, including all components thereof, and the National Guard when in the service of the United States pursuant to call as provided by law on a full-time active-duty basis, which does not include active duty for training purposes.

Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA)

Prohibits discrimination against veterans with a disability, recently separated veterans, active-duty wartime or campaign-badge veterans, and Armed Forces Services Medal veterans.

VEVRAA requires covered contractors to undertake affirmative action to attract, employ, and advance such protected veterans.

Workforce Analysis

A statistical analysis of the numbers and percentages of all employees of a specific employer by race or ethnic origin, sex, Vietnam-era veteran, and/or disability status by job category and level.

Reporting on Race and Ethnicity Glossary

View common definitions and resources for reporting on race/ethnicity and diversity, equity, and inclusion for internal and external reporting with a focus on the US Department of Education, NSF, NIH, and OFCCP.

View the Glossary