Students walk on the Ohio State campus

Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity

The Ohio State University is a diverse community of people and ideas. As part of the university’s shared values of diversity and innovation and inclusion and equity, Ohio State aims to be a standard of excellence for employment equity in higher education.

The Office of Institutional Equity supports these goals by coordinating the university’s employment equity efforts, including the Affirmative Action Program and Equal Employment Opportunity initiatives. 



What is Affirmative Action?

Affirmative Action is the university’s legal obligation to make good faith efforts to expand employment opportunities and remove identified barriers to the recruitment and advancement of under-represented individuals.

Affirmative action regulations include very specific requirements that apply to the university’s employment processes, to ensure these processes are free of bias and discrimination and equal employment opportunity is provided to all applicants and employees.  Affirmative action regulations require the university to create and maintain an Affirmative Action Program (AAP) which is described in detail below.

What is Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)?

EEO is a legally required set of standards designed to ensure all employment policies, processes, and decisions provide equal opportunity and are free of discrimination for all applicants and employees. While affirmative action contains very specific requirements, EEO is a broad principle-based requirement that everyone involved in the university’s employment processes must work to advance.

Affirmative Action, EEO, and Diversity

As part of our Shared Values Initiative, the university has identified the shared values of Diversity and Innovation and Inclusion and Equity. These values ground all of the university’s diversity, equity, and inclusion work. This work is supported by several university offices as well as the contributions of all members of our Buckeye Community. Affirmative action and EEO are legally required practices that help us to uphold our shared institutional values in the employment context and ensure that all employment processes and decisions are not discriminatory.

Affirmative Action Program Overview

The university’s Affirmative Action Program (AAP) outlines the university’s ongoing efforts to adhere to regulatory requirements, remove identified barriers to EEO, and expand employment opportunities for females, ethnic/racial minorities, individuals with a disability, and protected veterans. 
The information below highlights the key components of the university’s AAP.

AAP Responsibilities

University Responsibilities

Administering the Affirmative Action Program, establishing and monitoring progress towards achieving recruitment goals, and eliminating employment practices that create barriers to equal employment opportunity for our applicants and employees. These efforts are coordinated by the Office of Institutional Equity but are carried out through the Office of Human Resources (OHR), Office of Academic Affairs (OAA), managers and supervisors, as well as all employees at Ohio State. 

OHR and OAA Responsibilities 

Developing employment processes and guidelines that advance AAP requirements and ensure EEO is provided in all employment actions. In addition, OAA and OHR ensure affirmative action and EEO principles are applied daily in all employment processes, decisions, and practices. This may take the form of consulting with managers about how to ensure EEO is provided during the recruitment and selection processes, partnering with units to develop strategies to achieve affirmative action recruitment goals, or providing advice and consultation to ensure equity in promotion and compensation decisions.

Manager/Supervisor Responsibilities

Knowing and advancing affirmative action and EEO principles in their unit. This could include knowing their affirmative action recruitment goals and exercising and documenting good-faith efforts to meet these goals, ensuring all recruitment and selection processes provide equal employment opportunity in their unit, and basing all hiring and promotion decisions on the qualifications of the applicants and not their demographics. Managers and supervisors complete regular affirmative action and EEO training and also seek consultation and support from OHR and OIE when needed.  

Employee Responsibilities 

Employees are at the forefront of all affirmative action and Equal Employment Opportunity. When employees are aware of and committed to EEO, they lead the institution in carrying forward the practices and principles that make real change. Employees must know and adhere to university policy, but must also uphold EEO principles every day, as well as intervene or report barriers to achieving EEO to OIE. 

Key Terms

Affirmative Action Establishment

Identifies how the university’s colleges and units are grouped together for the annual affirmative action planning and reporting process. Each establishment has a separate set of annual affirmative action plans and reports.

The current affirmative action establishments for the university are:

  • Ohio State Columbus campus
  • OSU Wexner Medical Center
  • ATI
  • Lima
  • Mansfield
  • Marion
  • Newark
Affirmative Action Plan

Consists of (a) a narrative that identifies how the university meets affirmative action regulatory requirements to provide EEO to all applicants and employees and (b) reports that analyze key employment processes to identify any adverse impacts against females, racial/ethnic minorities, individuals with a disability, and protected veterans. Plans are created annually for each AAP establishment as part of the overarching AAP.

Good-Faith Efforts

Specific actions that the university undertakes take to fulfill its affirmative action and EEO responsibilities.

Job Group

Is composed of similarly situated job titles that share a common purpose and essential duties, skill set, and education or certification requirements.


Per affirmative action regulations, is a person whose race is non-Caucasian and who does not identify as Hispanic.

Recruitment goals

A recruitment goal serves as a target to inform recruitment efforts for females and ethnic/racial minorities – not a quota or set aside – and is based on identified underutilization of a specific demographic in our workforce.  The university must make good-faith efforts to meet these goals and document them in accordance with the university’s Record Retention Scheduled.

More information is available at


Is defined as having fewer females or racial/ethnic minorities in a job group than is reasonably expected based on the availability (which is the number of qualified individuals in the marketplace). The university is required to make good-faith efforts to recruit a workforce that mirrors the availability in the marketplace for each job group.


Affirmative Action and EEO FAQ

Why does the University have an Affirmative Action Program?

As a federal contractor, the university is required to have an AAP and abide by all affirmative action and EEO regulations. 

How is underutilization determined in our workforce?

The university analyzes existing workforce data, census data, and faculty availability data. For each job group, we determine if the number of qualified women and racial/ethnic minorities in the labor market (availability) is significantly higher than the number that is currently employed by the university in a particular job group(utilization). 
If there is a significant disparity between availability and utilization in a job group, a recruitment goal is established for that job group.

Why do I keep seeing the terms sex and gender, when those terms are different? 

Although affirmative action regulations recognize gender, the university’s employment application and human resource information system (Workday) is set up to collect the biological sex of applicants and employees.

Which demographics are covered by affirmative action regulations?

The following demographics are covered by affirmative action regulations: 

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • National origin
  • Protected veterans
  • Individuals with a disability

However, the university’s formal affirmative action program only collects and analyzes employment data based on sex, race, ethnicity, disability status, and protected veteran status. 

What demographics are INCLUDED IN EEO regulations?

As identified in the Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct policy, the university has 17 protected classes including: 
age, ancestry, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, genetic information, HIV/AIDS status, military status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, veteran status, or any other bases under the law.

The university’s Nondiscrimination notice is available at: 

Affirmative Action and EEO Recruitment Requirements 

As an affirmative action employer, the university is required to make good faith efforts to recruit qualified and diverse individuals. In support of this, the university’s recruitment, selection, and promotion processes must provide equal opportunity to all applicants and ensure applicant demographics are not considered in any way. 

To ensure that our processes are effective and compliant, all individuals who participate in the recruitment, selection, and/or hiring process should complete the Affirmative Action and EEO Recruitment and Selection Basics training. More information on this training is available.

Affirmative Action and EEO Hiring FAQ

Are affirmative action recruitment goals the same as quotas or preferences?

No, it is illegal to use quotas or consider an individual’s demographics in any employment decision. A goal does not reserve a place for or require that preference be given to a candidate based on their demographics. Affirmative action is intended to ensure that our employment processes provided equal opportunity to ALL applicants without any regard to their demographics. 

Recruitment goals simply inform the university’s recruitment strategies as we make good-faith efforts to achieve broader representation in job groups where there is an identified underutilization of women, racial/ethnic minorities, protected veterans, and/or individuals with a disability. 
Good faith efforts in the recruitment process are designed to attract diverse pools of qualified candidates and remove any barriers to EEO in our processes.

How do recruitment goals affect the hiring and promotion processes?

The first step is to determine if an affirmative action goal exists for an open position. Current recruitment goals will be available September 2022. 

If an affirmative action recruitment goal exists: good faith efforts should be made to recruit qualified applicants from the identified underutilized group(s). This is an expectation of OAA, OHR, and individual units when a position with an affirmative action recruitment goal is going to be filled. 

OHR Talent Acquisition can assist units with developing recruitment strategies and identifying diverse sources of candidates for staff positions. For more information, contact your assigned Talent Acquisition consult or visit: 

OAA and ODI can assist units and search committees with developing recruitment strategies and identifying diverse sources of candidates for faculty positions. Please see:

Office of Academic Affairs

Office of Diversity and Inclusion:
Inclusive Recruitment and Hiring Practices

Records should be maintained to document decisions related to selection and hiring. Additionally, all good faith recruitment efforts, interviews, and selection decisions must be documented and maintained for at least 3 years in accordance with the university’s Record Retention Schedule.  

If a recruitment goal does not exist: While not required by our AAP, good faith efforts should still be made to diversify the applicant pool. In addition, you must ensure that your processes are free of barriers and provide equal opportunity to all applicants.   

If there is no affirmative action recruitment goal for a position, can the manager or selection committee hire whomever they want? Do we have to interview more than one candidate?

Even if there are recruitment goals, the university is required to provide equal opportunity to all applicants for all positions. Therefore, regardless of whether a recruitment goal does or does not exist for a particular position, the hiring manager or search committee should consider all qualified applicants, and the selection of a final candidate must be based on qualifications without regard to the demographics of any applicant.

The best practice is to interview more than one candidate, which demonstrates that your department has taken reasonable efforts to find and select the most qualified person for the position using equitable and nondiscriminatory processes.

Are there recruitment goals for protected veterans and individuals with a disability?

Yes. The federal government provides these to all federal contractors. These goals apply to all colleges and units at the university. 
Individuals with a Disability:  Our goal is to recruit qualified individuals until at least 7% of our workforce is comprised of individuals with a disability.  This goal has been consistent for several years and is expected to remain the same for the years to come. 
Protected Veterans: The goal is adjusted each year by the federal government and is currently 5.5%. Instead of analyzing the employment rate of our current workforce, this analysis focuses only on our new hires. That means to achieve this goal, 5.5% of our new hires will identify as protected veterans. 

Can individuals of a certain demographic be targeted for hire? 

No. All decisions about which candidates will advance in the selection process and ultimately who will be hired must be made without any regard to an individual’s demographics. The decision must be based on the essential functions of the position and which candidate possesses the best qualifications to complete these functions. 

Can individuals of a certain demographic be targeted during the recruitment phase?

Yes. You can share your job posting with and/or encourage qualified individuals belonging to a certain demographic to apply for a position. The best practice is to have a neutral third party, such as an HR staff member or another employee not involved in the search process, share the job posting with the individual to prevent any appearance of bias or preference in the process. 

In addition, we encourage you to share your job postings with listservs, community organizations, industry groups, and any other pathways to qualified individuals who are currently underutilized in the university’s workforce. 

It is important to remember that you cannot discourage any individual from applying or refuse to accept a recommended candidate because they do not align with your affirmative action or voluntary recruitment goals. 

All employment decisions must be made without any regard for an individual’s demographics. So although you can target individuals during the recruitment phase, once an individual applies for a position, all processes must be consistent and equal, without regard to their demographics. 

Can interview slots be reserved for an individual who belongs to a specific demographic?

No. Interviews should always be offered to the most qualified candidates without regard to their demographics. 

Can applicants be required to submit a diversity statement as part of their application package?

Yes. However, you should check with OHR (staff) or OAA (faculty) to see if a diversity statement is appropriate for the role. 
If you do request diversity statements as part of the application package, it is important to:

  • Make the same request of all applicants 
  • Never request any demographic information
  • Include instructions that state applicant demographic information should not be included 
  • Never consider applicant demographics if they are disclosed

Can a diversity statement/tagline be included in job postings and/or job descriptions?

Yes. Diversity and innovation and inclusion and equity are fundamental components of the university’s Shared Values and Mission, and all employees contribute to advancing diversity. If a diversity statement/tagline is included, it is important to remember: 

  • To illustrate how diversity is related to the essential functions of the job in the position description. 
  • Even if you include a diversity statement, you cannot prioritize applicant demographics in the selection process to advance diversity in your unit; all decisions must still be made without regard to applicant demographics.
  • You should not prioritize, indicate a preference for, or call out certain demographics in diversity statements, we must support all protected classes equally and consistently. 
  • You must still comply with all EEO and nondiscrimination requirements in recruitment and selection processes.






Affirmative Action and EEO Recruitment Resources

Applicant pool demographic review FAQ

Provides best practices for reviewing the diversity of your applicant pool to ensure compliance with affirmative action and EEO requirements. 

AA/EEO policy

The university is committed to equal opportunity, affirmative action, and eliminating discrimination.


EEO Recruitment Selection and Hiring Tips

Provides the key EEO requirements for recruitment and selection processes to support all applicants receiving equal opportunity.

Affirmative Action and EEO Recruitment and Selection Basics

This course provides an overview of the Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity requirements that apply to the recruitment, selection, and hiring processes.

Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability

Provides information on why we collect the disability status of our applicants and employees and includes information on how to voluntarily disclose your status in the Workday system.

Recruitment Related Policies

Staff Recruitment and Selection

Faculty Recruitment and Selection

Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct

Establishes that all members of the university community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that maintains an environment free from sexual misconduct. 

Reasonable Accommodation

Establishes a process for processing employee requests for accommodations.

Annual Affirmative Action Recruitment Goals

As part of the annual affirmative action plans, the Office of Institutional Equity establishes recruitment goals for job groups with an identified underutilization as defined above. The university will make good-faith efforts to recruit qualified individuals from the identified underrepresented groups to fill vacancies and reach these goals. 

Recruitment goals are not selection goals or quotas. As a matter of law and university policy, selection for opportunities for hire, promotion, transfer, or training -- as well as decisions regarding demotion, termination, layoff, or other terms and conditions of employment -- shall occur without regard to any protected class including but not limited to race, ethnicity, sex, gender, disability, or protected veteran status.

The latest affirmative action recruitment goals are available here.

Affirmative Action and EEO Job Descriptions Requirements 

Our job descriptions define who and what we value and provide a chance for us to identify how a role supports advancing our Shared Values and mission. A job description plays a vital role in attracting and retaining qualified individuals by acting as the first impression of the university for applicants and defining responsibilities and expectations for employees. 

A well-written job description requires intentional effort to ensure that:

  • The essential functions are clearly identified 
  • The focus is on the required qualifications and experiences, not the nice to haves
  • The minimum and educational requirements have been reviewed to ensure they are necessary and do not create a barrier to EEO
  • Only physical and mental requirements that are necessary to perform an essential function are included
  • Coded language has been removed
  • Shared Values are exemplified 
  • Our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity is articulated 
  • Individuals with varied experiences and backgrounds can see themselves in the role 

The contents of a job description are an applicant’s first glance at our culture as a university. The way a job description is written also has a direct impact on the size and diversity of an applicant pool. Job descriptions should only include requirements that are essential to the role, and should be reviewed each and every time a position is posted to ensure that it is an accurate representation of the job. Keep in mind, that when there are more requirements in a job description, the pool is likely to be smaller and less diverse. Other elements of the posting, such as coded language and required educational background may unintentionally limit the pool and work against recruiting qualified diverse applicants. Job descriptions are critical in supporting EEO, inclusion, and diversity. 





Affirmative Action and EEO Job Description Resources

Course: Creating equitable job descriptions

This course is offered monthly by OIE on Zoom and provides an overview of the key components of job descriptions and how they directly impact the diversity of applicant pools. 

Guidelines for Physical and Mental Job Requirements

This resource identifies what physical and mental job requirements are and provides tips for creating requirements that align with ADA regulations. 

Compensation Tools

A properly designed position description (PD) provides a competitive advantage when sourcing talent.





Required Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action Statements

The university is required to include a statement of nondiscriminatory policy in any bulletins, announcements, publications, catalogs, application forms, or other recruitment materials that are made available to participants, students, applicants, or employees.

Use the following statement in your materials:

The Ohio State University is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, ancestry, color, disability, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, genetic information, HIV/AIDS status, military status, national origin, race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, protected veteran status, or any other basis under the law.

View the university’s affirmative action Statement of Policy

Other Affirmative Action and EEO Resources

Demographics included in affirmative action reports

Identifies which demographics are captured and analyzed as part of our affirmative action plans and identifies how the government defines those demographics.

Protected class definitions

Guidance around which individuals can be included in the protected classes identified in the university’s Nondiscrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy.