Affirmative action can be dated from a 1961 executive order issued by U.S. President John F. Kennedy. It required federal contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” This order was later expanded in another executive order issued by President Lyndon Johnson requiring federal contractors to develop policies to combat discrimination and to protect women from discrimination.

Since Johnson’s order, several U.S. policies and laws have encouraged or required corporations and other institutions to advertise jobs fairly and to promote the hiring and promotion of members of groups formerly discriminated against, notably women and minority ethnic groups. Implementation of both the letter and the spirit ...

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