Affirmative Action – Advantages and Disadvantages

What Is Affirmative Action?

Affirmative action refers to policies, practices, and activities that identify candidates for financial assistance or employment based on their race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. Affirmative action policies have successfully increased the number of women in power and influence at many different levels of organizations.

Affirmative action policies differ in how they’re implemented and used. They focus on demographic groups who historically have been underrepresented in positions of power, responsibility, and opportunity. Employers may use them to diversely fill open positions or promote candidates with particular attributes or qualities. Government agencies may also use them to promote minorities in leadership positions.

How Affirmative Action Works?

Affirmative action is a policy used to ensure equal opportunity for all American citizens. The idea was developed in the early 1960s to enforce the Civil Rights Act, which sought to eliminate discrimination.

Affirmative action was instituted to redress social inequalities, previously enforced by discriminatory membership practices. Even though this piece of legislation was passed, tangible change in hiring and admissions was not immediate.

Requirements for Affirmative Action

The Affirmative Action program was established to create an environment that enabled greater access to education for all people, not just privileged classes. The goal was to establish equality in the workplace by increasing diverse representation in education. The program helped provide grants, scholarships, and financial aid to underrepresented groups that wanted to attend college.

Requirements for affirmative action can be put into place to create various opportunities for individuals who might not otherwise have the chance. By mandating that companies hire specific numbers of people from various backgrounds also jobs might open up to those who otherwise would not have been considered because they didn’t meet the requirements set forth by the job description.

Affirmative action is the process of improving opportunities for under-represented groups (typically women and racial minorities) by ending discrimination in recruitment, promoting diversity, and monitoring the effects of these policies through various mechanisms.

The best jobs should go to people who are the most qualified. And often, the best way to determine who’s best is to measure diversity in experience, race, gender, and sexual orientation. This helps ensure that everyone has a level playing field when it comes to landing employment or training opportunities with government bodies or companies doing business with the government. Diversity also leads to greater innovation.

In recent years organizations are under pressure to make themselves more diverse. These include organizations who have been steadily making themselves more gender diverse, and an increasing push to make institutions more inclusive for minorities who are veterans, and people with a disability.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is commonly associated with efforts to increase minority representation in the labor force and other institutions, but it can also benefit whites living in poverty. It favors members of historically disadvantaged groups over others.

The aim is to recruit and retain experienced employees from historically underrepresented groups. This is achieved through a complex system of guidelines, annual reporting requirements, and numerous case-law decisions.

Affirmative action has its critics as well. Critics argue that while it helps increase representation for minorities in positions of power and influence, it does so at the cost of attrition among white men. They argue that affirmative actions create unnecessary tension between diverse groups and disrupt unity within social projects that might otherwise benefit from increased minority participation.

The goal of the laws was to reduce poverty and achieve diversity in industry sectors by having more qualified applicants for jobs. The laws were also intended to increase job security for workers since companies were prevented from asking job applicants what their race was before being hired.

Critics of affirmative action usually assert that it creates unnecessary barriers for underrepresented minorities and women and unfairly advantages white applicants over minorities and women. Affirmative action can harm business, as many firms rely on minority populations for clientele. Many argue that it creates unnecessary tension between employees and management and a lack of unity in the workplace.

Key Takeaways

  • Affirmative action refers to policies, practices, and activities that identify candidates for financial assistance or employment based on their race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. 
  • Affirmative action policies have successfully increased the number of women in power and influence at many different levels of organizations.
  • Affirmative action is the process of improving opportunities for under-represented groups (typically women and racial minorities) by ending discrimination in recruitment, promoting diversity, and monitoring the effects of these policies through various mechanisms.
  • Affirmative action was instituted to redress social inequalities, previously enforced by discriminatory membership practices.