Requirement that employers develop and implement programs to eliminate discrimination against women and members of minority groups, and promote equal opportunity in regard to recruitment, promotion and transfer, training and development and conditions of service.
The term was first used in the United States in "Executive Order No. 10925", signed by President John F. Kennedy in March 1961. The stated justification ffor affirmative action by its proponents is to help compensate for past discrimination, persecution or exploitation by the ruling class of a culture, and to address existing discrimination.
In the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the UN stipulates that affirmative action programs may be required of countries that ratified the convention, in order to rectify systematic discrimination. Although, it also states that such programs "shall in no case entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate rights for different racial groups after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved".