Affirmative Action

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DEFINITION of 'Affirmative Action'

A policy in which an individual's color, race, sex, religion or national origin are taken into account by a business or the government in order to increase the opportunities provided to an underrepresented part of society. Affirmative action is designed to increase the number of people from certain groups within businesses, institutions and other areas of society in which they have historically had low representation. It is often considered a means of countering historical discrimination against a particular group.

BREAKING DOWN 'Affirmative Action'

In the United States, affirmative action came to prominence in the 1960s as a way to promote equal opportunity across the various groups within society. It was developed as a way to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which sought to eliminate discrimination. Today, affirmative action has both strong supporters and staunch critics.

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