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Has Affirmative Action Outlived Its Usefulness in the Workplace?

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Has Affirmative Action Outlived Its Usefulness in the Workplace?

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  • September 2008
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Affirmative action was first introduced in President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 Executive Order 10925, requiring federal contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” The order was later expanded in 1967 to include requirements to benefit women. Affirmative action exists because the government felt it was necessary to rectify past wrongful discriminations of minority men and women of all races. It is a set of policies intended to help them gain access to education institutions and job employment so they can be more representative of the population.

Those who advocate affirmative action generally believe it is a means to address past discrimination. Affirmative action helps those that were set back by discrimination by giving them a chance to excel in education and in the workplace. This is done through recruitment programs that target disadvantaged groups and giving them preferential treatment among applicants. Less fortunate minorities are less likely to have good jobs and universities available to them but affirmative action gives them this chance. Affirmative action also helps to bring diversification to our workplaces and universities.

Affirmative action is beneficial but it can also be harmful. In today’s business environment, companies need to stay competitive. One way businesses stay competitive would be to hire a workforce that is highly capable and qualified. Affirmative action may be harmful because it forces employers to hire based more on race and less on qualifications. Employers may incur opportunity cost because an opening filled through affirmative action might’ve gone to a more qualified applicant. Affirmative action doesn’t just cause losses for employers but also to other applicants. Applicants who are more qualified, but lose the job to an affirmative action applicant might get...

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