As a human resource manager, in the future, understanding and preparing to deal with affirmative action will be essential to organizational success. For many years, managers did not pay attention to the concept of equal opportunity employment, and all kinds of people were ignored or passed over for promotion or even general employment. As a result, many businesses became one dimensional, and eventually closed their doors because their organizations were unable to see the business world from various perspectives.
Over the years though, ideas began to change as diversity has begun to seat itself into the very existence of many large organization. Understand that diversity is instrumental in their success, many organizations will continue to incorporate affirmative action into all facets of the hiring and promotion processes in the future. This paper will look at affirmative action, how it has affected business, the government, and society, and then offers suggestions to make affirmative action better in the future.
Through developing a better understanding of affirmative action, it should help human resource managers make better business decisions in the future. History During the Johnson administration, Affirmative Action was introduced in order to remedy years of discrimination. It was originally designed to improve the opportunities of minorities in the educational and business worlds. It helped open opportunities by mandating that minorities be given a fair and equal chance, regardless of color, race, religion, sex, or national origin.
Backed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a subsequent executive order in 1965, the government began pushing Affirmative Action to federal agencies, contractors, and subcontractors. “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it unlawful for employers covered by the Act to discriminate in the hiring, discharging, or treatment of an employee with respect to that person’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin,” (Scott & Little, 1991, pg. 2), and the government was determined to enforce the new policy.
To ensure Affirmative Action programs were being used, any businesses receiving federal funds was required to immediately cease using any form of testing that would result unfavorably towards minorities. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance would begin monitoring all government agencies and companies that were receiving federal funds to ensure they were in compliance; however, people still did not fully understand Affirmative Action.
As the program details became more widely understood, discontent with the program began to crop up although “affirmative action programs had been approved numerous times by Americans acting through the democratic branches of government” (Fried, 1989). By the 1980’s reverse discrimination cases were being brought forward and many people grew unsettled with Affirmative Action. As a result, cases began to filter into various court systems because employers and agencies had established a quota system to ensure they were hiring enough minorities, ultimately creating reverse discrimination.
The program limped into the late 1990’s, when states began to challenge the constitutionality of Affirmative Action programs and seeking alternate ways of making employment and education fair across the board. California led the way by passing proposition 209, which called for equal treatment in which race and sex did not play a part in the selection decision. After being challenged at the Supreme Court level, California’s proposition 209 was found to be constitutional, and the state forged a way ahead for the future.
Shortly after California’s victory with proposition 209, other states began passing similar legislation. As the United States moved into the late 2000’s, organizations began to refine business processes by ensuring that the hiring and promotion processes remained fair regardless of disparaging factors that were previously used in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Affects Throughout the years there have been many changes to way that Affirmative Action has been viewed across the United States, and in general it has created the change that America needed.
Through implementing Affirmative Action policies, various levels of business, government, and society have felt the positive effects. Within the business world, the number of minorities and women has grown since the inception of Affirmative Action. In fact, by not incorporating an Affirmative Action plans into the everyday hiring practices of a business, it creates barriers to larger sections of industry and the economy. The world has become a diverse place, and organizations that overlook diversity seem to just fall behind.
Heading into the future, private companies need to be forward thinking, and equip themselves with a diverse staff capable of handling business from all types of investors or customers. The bottom line is that Affirmative Action has become imperative for any organization, and it makes good business sense. The government is another sector that that has changed tremendously due to Affirmative Action measures. Although it has had its greatest success at the city, state, and governmental job levels, law enforcement agencies have felt the benefits as well.
In the beginning, government employers did not “appear to be aggressive in ensuring that those programs were being implemented and enforced seriously” (Supateera & Kleiner, 1999). However, after the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, government agencies and contractors began to realize the seriousness of the program. As the programs began to take hold at all governmental levels, “each level of Affirmative Action policy strength increased the number of minority hires” (Colarelli, Poole, Unterborn, & D’Souza, 2010).
Eventually, the program began to become misrepresented and society became discontent with it. Society was affected be Affirmative Action programs because they promoted reverse discrimination instead of stability in the workforce. Affirmative Action was viewed as a veiled attempt to make up for over a hundred years of discrimination, but society was already changing. People were realizing that there was value in a diverse workforce, and they wanted to hire people based on merit, education, and experience rather than filling quotas.
However, the courts did not see things that way, and they began making it almost impossible to hire the individual’s organizations really wanted. They made corporations an easy target for law suits by introducing the Theory of Disparate Impact. “This theory placed a lighter burden of proof on the plaintiff, who must prove only adverse effects instead of intentional discrimination, and more proof on the defendant, who must justify the employment practices having those adverse effects” (Rutherglen, 1987).
In the end, the Theory of Disparate Impact harvested discontent within society, and furthered the notation that there must be a better solution. Current Issues The largest current issue facing Affirmative Action programs is how to continue to employ Affirmative Action programs, while being fair to everyone, whether disadvantaged or not. The onus of these programs resides with the business owners and the human resource departments that must find a way to be fair with the implementation and distribution of Affirmative Action programs, while not demonstrating either discrimination or reverse discrimination.
The United States has come a long way from a time when discrimination ruled the day, and “the capacity to recognize diversity as something positive and bring it to the forefront in education, politics, and business is a crucial asset for modern civilizations” (Werz & Morgan, 2010). Finding a way to implement Affirmative Action laws and policies, while being fair to people across the board will be the biggest legal and ethical challenge I face in years to come. Understanding and embracing diversity should be easy as long as I approach it with open arms and eyes.
The Future In the future, I think that there are a few alternatives to rigid Affirmative Action plans that can help streamline the hiring, promotion, and equality processes. I think that by improving education at the very basic levels, it will help at the governmental and corporate levels down the road. Through offering equal education to all students, whether they are in the city, rural, or in private educational programs, it improves the ability of youngsters to be able to think critically.
In addition, it improves the likely hood that more children will attend college. When our future youth decides to apply to college, colleges should accept more minorities and women to help develop them for the future. With so many colleges and universities in the United States, almost any youth that decides to attend college is accepted. By promoting college attendance in high schools and through community programs, it educates children about possible futures and prepares them to think differently.
In addition, it educates the parents of children coming from low income families about the funding available today, which were not available years ago. Essentially, this would make children become part of a human capital pool that was developed equally from the very basic levels of society. The next step would be offering assistance to college students that are struggling through the use of government funds. If someone was struggling in college, the college would offer a government subsidized program that would pay for a tutor to help the student get back on track.
Once they have developed an understanding for the subject, the tutoring services would then be terminated and the student would continue independently. By offering tutoring services, it would ensure that students received a chance to continue their education, even through the face of adversity. This would help students of all backgrounds become college graduates and alter the typical paths of poverty that children from low income families tend to follow. Next, I think that human resource managers and organizations should target women and minorities through the way that they recruit potential applicants.
By promoting positions at minority colleges and universities and other college recruiting programs, it would create a larger pool of people that are qualified for various positions that are being filled. In addition to creating a larger pool of people, it would also be easy to implement policies that, with the applicant permission, would allow the human resource department to maintain the applications of women and minorities for an additional year. By maintaining the applications, it would make it easy for organizations to keep a pool of readymade applicants that would create a diverse working environment.
Of course, they would not be obligated to hire from that pool of applicants, but this process ensures that underprivileged people receive the “first look” when opportunities arise. Finally, I think that Affirmative Action policies should be addressed at the local and national governmental levels through the implementation of broad economic policies. These policies should target families that are low to middle class, and offer assistance through tax credits, child benefits, and insurance to ensure that children of all social and economic classes receive the same opportunities, regardless of parental income.
Through developing these social policies, it will help narrow the margins between educational systems, and promote the possibility that every child has a chance to have a bright future. By offer families and children a chance to succeed in the face of adversity; it will strengthen the American peoples conviction to our country and Affirmative Action at the very basic levels. My Thoughts By taking a closer look at the suggestions I have for embracing and harvesting a culture that is rich in Affirmative Action programs, I think that it will eliminate the need for blatantly published policies regarding minorities in the future.
I think that by acknowledging that we have a problem within the United States, we can begin to develop a generation of people which view people equally and relish the diversity that everyone brings to the table. Although I came from a rural white family, the opportunities that I had to attend college were limited by the fact that my family was a low income family. No one in my family had ever attended college before, and as a result, college was talked about but not encouraged.
When I applied to college, I had very average grades and my family did not make enough money to afford to pay the tuition. I was originally denied acceptance, and I began searching for other ways to attend college. Once accepted, I had to get loans and grants to pay my way, but I also had to work two jobs to help support my family back home. The workload became to much for me to handle, and I eventually dropped out of school. I applied for several higher paying jobs, but without an education my application was brushed to the side. No one would give me a chance. After a couple of ears of working long shifts in a factory, I decided to enlist in the Air Force, and I discovered a world of opportunities for achieving my educational goals. Eventually, I finished my bachelor’s degree, and I am now working on my master’s degree. I will always remember the struggles that I went through in the future as I prepare to fill a human resource management position in the corporate world. I also think that it will make it easier to incorporate Affirmative Action into daily organizational practices. Ultimately, I think that it will help my organization build a more diverse workforce, and improve the working environment.
Through using Affirmative Action programs to develop a pool of people that are qualified to fill important positions within an organization, I think that it shows an organizations commitment to investing in human capitol. Regardless of their background, people from all walks of life bring something interesting and different to the table, but it is our challenge to seek out those people and hopefully be able to offer them an opportunity to succeed. If someone had helped me at an early childhood age, it might have changed the path that I took to my educational goals and career.
Perhaps, I will be able to make a difference in the future by promoting and applying Affirmative Action programs equally to all people. Conclusion While Affirmative Action was originally designed to help African Americans succeed after years of discrimination, it evolved into something much more. Affirmative Action programs became a way for youths from all underprivileged neighborhoods and parts of society, regardless of color, religion, sex, or culture, to succeed. They became hope for the future and a method of allowing organizations to build diverse workforces capable of achieving great things.
They became part of a global mindset in business that allowed businesses to expand into places they never dreamed possible in the past. Affirmative action became the watchword for human resource managers, legislation, and the future in order to end discrimination. This paper looked at affirmative action, how it has affected business, the government, and society, and then offered suggestions to make affirmative action better in the future. As society begin to understand Affirmative Action better, it should help managers at all levels, across a vast number of organizations, make better business decisions in the future.