Since the introduction of affirmative action in the US in 1961, debates about its full adoption in the workplace have continued to be witnessed across the globe with each side of the divide having a different point of views. For many years’ affirmative action has been decades-old debate with major institutions such as Harvard being questioned about their take on it.
Currently, affirmative action is only applied in learning institutions and rarely used in the workplaces. The non-acceptance of affirmative action in all sectors of the economy has resurfaced tickling issue that has attracted local and international ire. Especially, in the US where it was initially meant to promote social justice. Affirmative action refers to a combination of programs that are intended to curtail discrimination and instead promote equal opportunities of employment for all.
Essentially, affirmative action was designed to enhance educational and vocational access for the minorities in the US. The motivation behind the program was to dispel the social and economic trends that only benefited the privileged groups in the society. As a result, Affirmative action gave access to those people who could not have attended college to attend and also be employed where they were not firstly qualified to be employed. The implication of the policy meant that employers to deliberately recruit less qualified people due to their minority status.
Ever since 1961 when it was created by executive order of President Kennedy, and despite being supported by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor What Will the Harvard Case Mean for Affirmative Action? in 2018, the need have affirmative action in the workplace still has extensive speculations. Discussed below are some of the reasons as to why affirmative action should or not be implemented in the workplace.
The benefits of implementing affirmative action in the workplace
Reduce discrimination by Promoting diversity
The fundamental motive that led to the establishment of the affirmative action was to tackle rampant discrimination in the workplace; where only a few would be admitted and the others send away due to non-qualification. Through the implementation of affirmative action, contractors can help to achieve equal opportunities for all people by recruiting the minorities who lack the required levels of expertise. Employers can hire employees from different backgrounds of educational levels, experience and even varying qualifications. By assigning each person a specific task based on the guidelines that the program has and the technicality of the job to be performed.
The use of affirmative action makes the workplace to be inclusive in regard to gender and skills and hence achieving a diversified workplace where individuals can learn from each other and easily share their irreplaceable experiences. Supporters for affirmative action strongly believe it is good for ensuring equality in racial and gender diversity as far as education and employment is concerned.
Tackles socioeconomic differences
According to the recent US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports; after the 2009 recession, the overall increase in household income for three years was 6.9%. Nevertheless, this was not true for all people in the country as a section of the top earners in the state who form 1% recorded a surge in their real income by 34% whereas the bottom 99% only recognized a 0.8% rise in their real income. Such is the high real income gap in society and the only way it can be handled is through affirmative action which will give the underprivileged in the society an opportunity to be employed in the leading companies and earn to uplift their social destitution.
Reduce the glass ceiling effects
If well implemented in the workplace, affirmative action can help to resolve the glass ceiling riddle which has been in place for many years. Issues such as gender equality and equal pay can only be tackled through affirmative action because it offers opportunities to minorities who can get educated and be employed to fit those positions through and this can promote diversity and control discrimination at workplaces which has become the arch cause of glass ceiling.
Boosted productivity and commitment
One of the core benefits for promoting affirmative action in the workplace is its ability to enhance productivity for both employees and companies. Through the program, each person is aware of a large number of people who can be employed through affirmative action and calls for the need for them to be more productive to uphold their positions in the company. Employees will be aware that if they fail to improve their performance, any person can be given the same job because it will not be determined by their experience, education or qualifications.
Moreover, through affirmative action, the company is likely to get employees from different backgrounds such as history, language, skills and many more. This can become a driving force for products as the more people you have from different backgrounds, the higher the chance of increasing creativity and information sharing in the workplace.
Affirmative action can reduce positions and social status in the society which are frequently associated with negative perception about minorities. The fact that through the program both of them can work together means that such negative attitude towards them is likely to change.
Reasons why affirmative actions should not be implemented in the workplace
Creates reversal discrimination
The essence of affirmative action is to give positions to those people who are less qualified or do not fit them but only because of their social status. However, whereas the motive behind the application of affirmative action is to address the imbalances in socioeconomic status, the truth is different. Affirmative action is vital in creating discrimination than promoting equality and diversity in the workplace. Individuals who are qualified for the jobs are likely to be discriminated from the positions they rightfully fit for the sake of those who are under qualified or lack the needed expertise and competencies to adequately serve in the post. According to a report published by Forbes affirmative action is a form of partisan issue because searching for diversity without adhering to equal opportunities regarding qualification is, in essence, promoting discrimination against those who have attained the needed skills through handwork.
One of the challenges of having affirmative action in the workplace is its effects in redirecting the focus from qualification to gender and minorities in the community. The basic principle behind the recruitment and selection process is the attainment of the best person to fit in a given position. However, through affirmative action, employers are obligated by the state to focus on balancing social status in the recruitment process. Overlooking on qualifications can result in under-performance and inferior services that effectively translates into financial losses. It is challenging for affirmative action to be used in retracting or eliminating the ancient social injustices. Employment and performance are all about the competitiveness of the employees and not based on their minorities.
Through the various policies that are used to implement affirmative action, stigma is likely to be common, especially when hardworking individuals conceptualize that women and other minorities in the community can be given position based on their gender, race and even ethnicity and not through their qualifications. An extended stigma resulting from the use of affirmative action can lead to many people questioning the competency of the minorities.
Degrades qualifications and experience
The chief tenancy of affirmative action is to offer employment opportunities to indiscriminately regardless of skills and competencies. however, this creates ambiguity during the recruitment process; whereby an employer is compelled to overlook qualifications or experience and hire persons who are under-qualified or simply ignoring gender bias problem. The affirmative practices are likely to cause dissatisfaction and loss of hope among individuals who have invested heavily in attaining the highest levels of qualification and expertise.
The essence of using affirmative action is to place little emphasis on education and training. The practice has devastating effects for those who have used their resources to learn and train in specific areas and end up not being employed and can deter racial relations among employees.
To effectively obtain social justice, the government has the responsibility of ensuring that the prevailing conditions for each person a chance to learn and be trained and finally be employed through a thorough selection process. By doing this, everyone will be ready to strive and gain the needed competency and not be based on their ambiguous status in the community. Undermining education and qualifications is not the best thing to do for the sake of minorities while discounting the amount of investment done by other persons to attain their levels.
Leads to poor performance
Through affirmative action, everyone is given an equal opportunity of being employed regardless of their education and qualifications. Employing people to fill certain vacancies without the necessary know-how is the best way to promote poor performance among companies. There are specific tasks which need the proficiency and if people with such skills are not hired, the company is poised to suffer heavy losses. The employer will have to incur extra cost in training employees which reduce profits.
A final thought
In summary, supporting equality and minorities through affirmative action is everybody’s goal. Just like any other government policies, affirmative action has its benefits and flaws that employers must be aware of before deciding on whether to implement or avoid using it at the workplace. Firms are encouraged to be focused on policies which support affirmative action at the workplace with the aim of achieving equality. The use of affirmative action can cause many people to cast doubt on the need for learning and investing in education while the supporters may view it as one of the ways to reduce historical social injustices.
The application of the practice at work should be redefined to focus on positions which do not need expertise or high training as this can have adverse effects on the performance. Nonetheless, the decision as to whether affirmative action should be implemented in the workplace depends on the complexity of the work to be done.