Is Diversity The Solution To Affirmative Action?

2711 words - 11 pages


Equal employment practices, in many organizations, have been established through affirmative action programs. These programs were created by government mandate to create a fair and non-discriminatory working environment in organizations. The need for affirmative action was recognized as early as the 1940’s, as a concept, based on the racial diversity of our country. The goal was the redistribution of opportunities on the basis of race. Now as we approach the 21st century, affirmative action seems to be a dying issue, legally and otherwise. The fact still remains that we have a racially and culturally diverse population, here in the United States, and something has to take the place of affirmative action. Diversity seems to be the new concept of most public and private organizations, Many Human Resources specialist seem to believe that where there is diversity there is no need for affirmative action. In this report I will look at what affirmative action has done for us, and where diversity can take us.

President Johnson formally created affirmative action in 1965; it initially targeted employers that held federal contracts. The originating document for affirmative action was Executive Order 11246, which mandated a race-neutral means of equal opportunity and created a level playing field for previously excluded people. Employees should be treated equally without regard for their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. With the passage of time, affirmative action received a broader definition and became the platform for women’s groups, civil rights’ groups and other minorities. The umbrella term, ‘affirmative action’, refers to a variety of highly regulated efforts used by employers and educational institutions to overcome past and continuing discrimination, in order to allow qualified women and minorities to compete equally for jobs, education and promotional opportunities.

When affirmative action was established assumptions were made as to the benefits of initiating programs. Joseph & Coleman (1997) agree, that the organization and the individuals would benefit and advances of productivity would make it all worth while in the long run (p. 259). Programs established under the heading of affirmative action have been under close scrutiny for years, and have recently come under fire from many arenas, as being discriminatory toward the dominant race, specifically White males. It is also believed that affirmative action gives preferences to unqualified individuals. Eastland (1996) says, " Affirmative action has turned out to be a bargain with the devil", (p. 7).

The federal and state laws that pushed implementation of affirmative action programs, did not dictate that quotas be set, but stressed that individuals be judged by their qualifications---meaning skills, knowledge, talent and experience---rather than by their gender, race or national origin. Affirmative action was meant to be...

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