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Outcomes of Affirmative Action
Affirmative action was started by Lyndon B. Johnson as a way to equalize the
employment field to minority job seekers. What started out as an equal opportunity action
has become the subject of controversy in many workplaces across the United States.
Many feel that affirmative action has gone too far and is an example of reverse
discrimination, while others believe that it has yet to do enough to “level the playing field”
in the employment domain. From what I have studied, it is my belief that affirmative
action has started to produce many more negative effects, than positive ones. Therefore,
it is my opinion that affirmitive action is a good guideline for hiring practices, but should
not be manditory.
Lyndon Johnson initiated affirmitive action with the Executive Order 11246, which
ordered all federal contractors to have equal employment. Companies had to determine
the perentage of minorities and women and then identify “underutilization”, which is,
“when the percentage of employees in a particular job catergory is less than the percentage
of potentially qualified members of that group in the labor force”(Walker 111). Many
companies today are required, by law, to have a certain percentage of minorities and
women working for them. In 1966, when Lyndon Johnson passed this Executive Order
the United States was a different place than it is now, thirty three years later, and racial
minorities and women are treated more equally than they ever have been. Special
treatment was necessary to equal out employment oppertunities in 1966, but now “test
results indicate that many firms today do operate as equal opportunity employers”
(Ben*censored* 150). Affirmative Action was a great idea, but I believe that it has become
outdated and unnessary.
One of the major negative outcomes of affirmative action is that many white males
now feel like they are experiencing reverse discrimination. Often affirmative action works
in a way that it seems that minorities are choosen over their white counterparts even when
their credentials are of an equal level. This is a form of discrimination and actually
performs the very function affirmative action was implemented to prevent. Tensions run
high with white males when discussing affirmative action. Many feel ignored and looked
over so that some company can fulfil thier quota of women and racial minorities. Whether
this is true can not be tested, but white males feel like the system is letting them down,
that they are being taken for granted. I think this sentiment is dangerous. In the instances
that minorities are selected for a job simply to fill a quota, white employees tend to harbor
a negative attitude toward minorities. Therefore, I believe that affirmative action
ultimately feeds the feelings of inequality among the races and sexes.
Another negative outcome is the fact that many minorities in top level jobs are
viewed as “affirmative action cases.” As a woman I would like to believe that I was hired
at a particular employer because of my education level, experience, and working skills.
Not because I am a woman and that certain company has not hired enough minoritites to
achieve their quota. Hiring practices should not be based on quotas and numbers to be
filled. One of the basic rules of capitalism is that the best win out and all others are left
behind. When competing for a job in the capitalist economy, companies should not be
required to hire a certain number of anyones, no matter race or sex. It is unconstitutional
to employ people based on thier race or sex. “Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, or
sex”(Walker 108). So how is affirmative action legal. Many major universities in Texas
and in California have decided that it is not a good mode for selecting students and have
absolved affirmative action practices.
The basis for instituting affirmative action policies into our schools and businesses
was to ensure that employees are treated without regard to their race, national origin, sex,
or disability. This blanket statement was inacted in the hiring practices of businesses in
order to increase the diversity of the workplace. Most importantly, affirmative action was
implemented to allow minorities the opportunity to secure a job that they might not have
gotten otherwise and thus raise their income and standard of living. Despite the good
intentions of affirmative action, there have been many negative outcomes that continue to
heighten racial tension and disastisfaction in the workplaceBecause of the negative
outcomes from implementing affirmative action policies in the workplace, I believe that
the true way to weed out racial inequality must come in the early years–long before an
individual reaches the working age. This type of reform would be much more complex
than affirmative action. It would, however, actually eliminate the problem before it started
by making sure that all kids had an equal opportunity to recieve an education and skills
needed to secure a job.