Questions on Affirmative Action

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Part A: Questions on Affirmative Action
What is Affirmative Action?
Affirmative action can be defined by the set of public policies and initiatives designed to help eliminate past and present discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin (Sykes 2009). The focus of such policies and initiatives range from employment and education to public contracting and health programs (Wikipedia 2009). These affirmative actions policies have been established in response to decades of discrimination against minorities, even after the passage of constitutional amendments and federal statutes prohibiting discrimination (ThisNation 2009). Affirmative action has been around since the late 1800s, however the push for more extensive laws and the enforcement of affirmative action actually began in the 1960s during the Civil Rights movement in the United States (WiseGeek 2008).

Who has been Affirmative Action's largest beneficiary? Why?
When talking about who has benefited the greatest from affirmative action many people would say either African Americans or Latin Americans, however Caucasian women are the true largest beneficiaries of affirmative action. According to a blog by Hilary Clinton at, people always speak in terms of race in relation to affirmative action when in fact the Civil Rights amendment was really about women. White women are the second largest group of people after that of Caucasian males. With this being said and understanding that all women benefited from the Civil Rights amendment, one can easily see how Caucasian women have been the primary beneficiaries of affirmative action. An example of affirmative action benefiting Caucasian women greatly is the edge given to them for entering colleges and job markets.

What does quotas have to do with Affirmative Action?
Many people believe that affirmative action is a quota system that is in affect in the United States. However, affirmative action is not a quota system because quotas are illegal in the United States (Huppi n.d.). The only exception is when a judge orders a quota on a company that has been found guilty of extreme or blatant discrimination in employment (Huppi n.d.). Critics of affirmative action claim this is still a quota system, since it quantifies the number of minorities and women that a company is supposed to hire (Huppi n.d.). Though one must understand that this system does not require nor condone companies to hire unqualified people to meet their diversity goals. Example, if two applicants apply to a specific company, one being a Caucasian male and the other being a African American male who is less qualified for the job position, then the company is encouraged to hire the Caucasian male over the African American male. This is far different from a rigid quota system, in which a company must hire a certain percentage of minorities and women, or else be penalized by a judge (Huppi n.d.).

My viewpoint towards quotas placed on these companies is that I agree in what circumstances must take place to actually place an employment quota on a company. If it is apparent a company is practicing unethical employment practices through discrimination then I think it is only fair that a quota be placed on that specific company. However, I find it unbearably difficult to understand why companies today still discriminate. The pros of having a diverse workforce are incredibly significant and I feel as though almost all companies should know this by now.

Why does Affirmative Action expand recruiting and training techniques? What are some of those recruiting techniques?
Affirmative action expands recruiting and training techniques because for a company to attract a diverse group of recruits they must do more than their normal recruiting standards. Companies must advertise in ethnic/culture specific publications whose readership represents diverse groups or whose readership attracts a multicultural population (Griswold 359)....
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