Hiring biases based on gender identity and expression and predispositions to genetically inherited diseases have no place at Georgetown, according to a new Faculty Senate measure approved Wednesday. The measure – which revises the university’s affirmative action and discrimination policies – brings all of the university’s hiring policies into compliance with federal and D.C. law..

The body unanimously approved the revisions to Georgetown’s Equal Opportunity policies and also passed the revised Affirmative Action in Employment policy. The changes still need to be approved by the Executive Committee of the President’s Cabinet and the university’s Board of Directors. Rosemary Kilkenny, vice president for institutional diversity and equity, said that these polices will be presented to the Board of Directors next month.

The Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action revised the Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination in Employment and Education policies by adding new protective categories. The new employment policy, which governs faculty, staff and administrators, would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or genetic information.

The education policy, which governs the university’s treatment of students, similarly prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.

“We noticed that the statement currently in the [Faculty] Handbook was out of date when moved to a Web-based handbook and [began] revising it last February,” Faculty Senate President and Chair of the philosophy department Wayne Davis said. “The update to the [Equal Employment Opportunity] statement was pretty easy because changes in the law mandated it.”

“We realized that the EEO statement contained a one-line affirmative action policy, which needed a lot of revision in part because of changes in legal rulings, which precluded [the use of quotas] in academic admissions, and in part because that one-line statement did not reflect the university’s own detailed affirmative action plan,” Davis said.

Kilkenny said that the rationale for adopting two different statements for faculty and students was to make it easier to understand the policy that applied to them.

The revised Affirmative Action in Employment policy is now based on and in accordance with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance regulations.

The IDEAA took out references to non-discrimination factors to preclude redundancy with the Equal Opportunity policies, Kilkenny said. “This really sets up what the university’s obligation is to increase the diversity of our workforce to reflect various labor pools from which we recruit,” Kilkenny said.

The new policy calls for women and minorities to be represented in roughly equal percentages to their proportion in the labor pool.

“If women and minorities are not being employed at the rate expected given their availability in the relevant labor pool, we engage in specific, practical steps to address this underutilization,” Kilkenny said.

Kilkenny also said that the university would actively attempt to attract a diverse group of applicants for job openings.

According to Kilkenny, the nature of the open positions would dictate the geographic range from where the university draws its applicants.

“The specific category or position we are trying to fill will influence the particular steps we are trying to take – faculty would be recruited from a more national pool whereas regular staff would be selected from a more local or regional pool,” she said.

However, the IDEAA will treat both equal opportunity policies as the operating guidelines because they are mandated by law and, as a result, the university must approve them. Until then, Georgetown is officially operating under the Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Statement from 1999.

“The main impact of these changes is that it signals to prospective employees that we do not engage in illegal discrimination. Since the university has always gone to great lengths to avoid discrimination and provide equal opportunity, the change will not have much impact on practice,” Davis said.

Kilkenny said the changes were made in response to a 2006 amendment to the D.C. Human Rights Act and revised federal regulations.

Georgetown’s previous non-discrimination policy dated back to 1999 and included both education and employment clauses. The IDEAA decided to create two policies – one that would apply to students and would appear in the Student Handbook, and one for employees and faculty members, which would appear in the Faculty Handbook.

The regulations of the Office of Civil Rights, which is housed in the U.S. Department of Education, prohibit discrimination based on age, color, disabilities, marital status, national origin, race, religion and gender. Further categories in the Equal Opportunity policies are covered by the D.C. Human Rights Act. According to Kilkenny, these were considered in the adoption of the affirmative action measure.

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