A Comparative Analysis of Affirmative Action in the United Kingdom and United States


  • Uduak Archibong PhD, FWACN, FRCN,

    1. University of Bradford, England
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Uduak Archibong, PhD, FWACN, FRCN, is professor of diversity at the University of Bradford, England, where she directs the Centre for Inclusion and Diversity and provides strategic oversight for equality and diversity across the institution. She holds visiting professorship posts at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa and Central University College, Miotso, in Ghana, and she is a fellow of the West African College of Nursing and of the Royal College of Nursing. She can be reached at u.e.archibong@bradford.ac.uk.

  • Phyllis W. Sharps PhD, RN, FAAN

    1. Johns Hopkins University
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Phyllis W. Sharps, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the associate dean Community and Global Programs, professor and chair, Department of Community Public Health Nursing, Johns Hopkins University, School of Nursing, in Baltimore, MD. She may be reached at Psharps@son.jhmi.edu.


Based on research conducted during a large-scale European Commission project on international perspectives on positive/affirmative action measures, the authors provide a comparative analysis of the legal context and perceptions of the impact of positive action in the United Kingdom and the United States. The study adopted participatory methods including consensus workshops, interviews, and legal analysis to obtain data from those individuals responsible for designing and implementing positive action measures. Findings are discussed, conclusions drawn, and wide-ranging recommendations are made at governmental and organizational levels. The authors conclude by suggesting possible implications for policy and argue for widespread awareness-raising campaigns of both the need for positive action measures for disadvantaged groups and the benefits of such measures for wider society. They also recommend the adoption of a more coherent and collaborative approach to the utilization and evaluation of the effectiveness of positive or affirmative action.