Affirmative action definition
There is no widely accepted definition of affirmative action since it varies based on specific situations being applied. However, some underlying themes tend to interconnect with the application of the concept of affirmative action. Affirmative action is a dynamic move to enhance the employment or educational chances of people of the minority groups including women and persons with disabilities (Price 109). The notion of improving initially discriminated groups is basic to affirmative action and the objectives it hopes to attain. This discussion focuses on affirmative action plans in the business context and whether they are effective. The bottom line is that affirmative action is meant to provide equal employment opportunities for members of groups that have commonly faced segregation.
Affirmative action can be traced back to the Civil Rights Movement. Before the Plessy v. Ferguson case, a major case pioneered prospective developments in laws against discrimination. The case simply referred to as the Civil Rights Case of 1883 was relevant since it toppled the Civil Rights Act of 1875. In his ruling, Justice Joseph Bradley argued that it was time for people of color to embrace their part as mere civilians and forget the notion of being a special group of the law. In essence, the case clearly stated that the United States Government was supposed to put in place measures that will ensure initial social injustices were reconciled. In the Plessy v. Ferguson, it was decided that “separate but equal” was both necessary and constitutional. Upholding such a policy that would in future become unconstitutional was heartbreaking for minority groups in the Deep South (Price 111).
The same case led to the Civil Rights Movement, inspiring NAACP and its leaders like Thurgood Marshall. He had experienced both the backlash of the law and Jim Crow Policies, and therefore, Marshall created a legal technique to prove that “separate but equal” clearly opposed itself to the extent that it was unconstitutional (Urofsky 17). As a result, through legal evaluation and explanation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Fifth Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court was compelled eliminate policies established in the Plessy v. Ferguson case during the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education case.
What is an affirmative action plan
In the context of employment, affirmative action encompasses laws and processes designed to fight continuous job discrimination in the place of work. As such, affirmative action is meant to prohibit recruitment segregation and foster a more varied environment. Diversity in the workplace is mostly an initiative that corporations develop to add to their traditional corporate culture and mission statement (Urofsky 22). It is believed that fostering diversity in the workplace encourages a surplus of creativity because of the different cultural backgrounds of workers. Therefore, affirmative action in business started as not only a balancing, but also a precautionary move to help in the elimination of inequality in the place of work.
While multinationals and other companies have made great steps lately, there is still discrimination with regard to employment for groups like minorities and women. Such hindrances to prospective opportunities have established a playing ground that favors groups that are sufficiently represented as compared to others. For this reason, efforts have been made to eliminate inequality in the workplace. The measures commonly called affirmative action plans are created to enable success in the workplace, especially for members of targeted groups (Urofsky 25).
Based on the possible positive results, affirmative action is a necessary process. For contemporary multinationals to grow and sustain profitability, it is imperative to espouse and promote diversity in the workplace. As a point of discussion, corporations and other firms that need diversity in the workplace may not achieve their objectives unless they implement affirmative action plans (Vedder 60). Therefore, affirmative action plans work effectively since they seem to enable a diverse working environment and other organizations.
Affirmative action in employment
Affirmative action plans in the workplace allow employees to take a different point of view on their tasks while at the same time embracing new ideas from coworkers. This offers extra opportunities for employees to learn and enhance their professional development. The effectiveness of affirmative action plans does not only lie in eradicating the subtle and continuous segregation that still exists, but also benefits corporations. Research reveals prejudice is an expensive business undertaking because it hinders employees from getting certain assignments and reduces their general contribution to their companies (Price 134). With this knowledge, employers can avoid discrimination through implementing affirmative action plans in the workplace.
Because of implementing affirmative action plans in public and private sectors, people with disabilities and women have continued to increase in number. For instance, in the private sector alone, African American numbers escalated at a double rate as compared to whites. In fact, approximately 25 percent of all African-Americans in the job market work in the public sector. Irrespective of whether or not such plans are ordered by the court, it is argued that the numbers offer direct proof that affirmative action plans have given minority groups many opportunities that may not have been given before (Vedder 61). Although affirmative action plans have worked well in the public sector, the case is different in the private sector. Available information suggests that improvement of underrepresented people has occurred faster in firms that are federally owned than private companies. In essence, there are employers who require scrutiny from the government before they can embrace measures of affirmative action. In the private sector, African Americans and white women are the two major groups that benefit from affirmative action plans in the private sector.
What do affirmative action programs involve?
In writing, affirmative action sounds fantastic. It should work effectively because of government policies established by Title VII and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Vedder 67). Nevertheless, affirmative action plans work only when the law set by the president lacks haphazard stances on the problem at hand. Therefore, it means that in case a president’s policy has a stance, it will be difficult for affirmative action plans to function effectively. This specifically raises questions since the requirements established by the government in collaboration with the Federal contract conformity program have helped in the decrease of prejudiced activities.
In addition, the absence of initiatives by employers mystifies these problems because when correct recruitment measures are made, it has been proven that affirmative action plans result in enhancement of minority groups. As a HR policy, advertising job opportunities should happen to a wider and more diverse group of potential employees. The basic problem of affirmative action plans is an overdependence on voluntary actions of employers. In this case, it works at the discretion of employers. In case an employer lacks an attitude that aligns with affirmative action plans and their objectives, the chances are slim that these objectives will be achieved. EEOC prevents recruitment segregation to ensure equality, but it does not evidently ensure the improvement of minority groups amid the fact that it provides possible policies for affirmative action plans (Vedder 71).
Studies suggest that several flaws in affirmative action plans hinder its success as a practice in business (Urofsky 30). The issues are not just confined to the level of tensions that others inflict on it bust also comprise internal burdens that have a negative implication on the minorities that such plans claim to help. Those who benefit from affirmative action are mostly stigmatized as being incompetent and unqualified. From the outside, when companies have an action plan, colleagues in the workplace assume that such people only get the job based on their demographic. The view that such people have no qualifications leads to the goals of affirmative action to be assessed negatively, irrespective of their actual performance. These external forces create a cycle, which then imposes itself to the people and their personal assessment. As a result, these people assume that they have no capability to do their work efficiently. In this case, work performance evaluation is done by supervisors without clarity. Minorities upon receiving the assessment of their performance hold a belief that they can succeed in the workplace due to them failing to meet organizational standards of performance. The negative self-perception results into target groups demeaning themselves.
In conclusion, affirmative action plans do not work because of the belief embedded in the idea that it violates merit. Based on the level of which affirmative action is used, it obstructs upon such notions, potentially causing reversed prejudiced practices. HR policies should, therefore, focus on fostering a positive perception of minority groups and their contribution to the organization as opposed to the inabilities.
Price, Alan. Human Resource Management in a Business Context. London: Thomson, 2007. Print.
Urofsky, Melvin I. A Conflict of Rights: The Supreme Court and Affirmative Action. Toronto: Collier Macmillan Canada, 1991. Print.
Vedder, Richard. Opportunity Two Thousand: Creative Affirmative Action Strategies for a Changing Workforce. Place of publication not identified: Diane Pub Co, 1988. Print.
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