One may be hard-pressed to find a topic in the world of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action that is more disliked than adverse impact. Not only does an adverse impact analysis (a.k.a. impact ratio analysis and/or disparity analysis) involve complicated statistical calculations to arrive at its results, but these results are often used in investigations as the foundation for charges of discrimination. There is little wonder why HR practitioners sometimes avoid – or perhaps revile – the practice. It’s difficult, often poorly understood, and fraught with liability.

Despite these challenges, an adverse impact analysis is a tremendous diagnostic tool in evaluating employment practices and helping to ensure that fair treatment is commonplace at work. In the same way as nearly anyone can navigate the internet without knowing the coding that goes into it, a functional understanding of adverse impact is more readily a