Affirmative action works to help ensure equal opportunity employment in that it requires companies to hire a certain number of individuals from minority groups. This was intended to ensure that every company has a diverse workforce rather than only hiring white, male employees. This was due to employees being discriminated against during the hiring process where they may be as accomplished as the other white candidates for a position, but were overlooked because of their gender or skin color.
However, there needs to be action that may look (on the surface) to be unfair or unreasonable. This is especially true of actions that attempt to correct social wrongs that have been going on so long that the wrongs do not appear wrong, but rather appear to be the social norm. Discrimination is one of these societal wrongs that can appear to be the norm, but in reality needs serious social reform. Affirmative action takes steps toward equality in many places, but most specifically the workplace and in levels of higher education.
Affirmative action has been referred to by some in a negative tone as reverse discrimination, making it discrimination as well.
Affirmative action helps to reduce some standards of accountability providing the way for employees or students to perform to the best of their ability but not to the standards needed. Unfortunately, students admitted to schools based on affirmative action are not equipped to handle the rigors of academic life and affirmative action sets them up for great personal failure.
Affirmative action has been looked at negatively by those for which it was created for because it insults their abilities. Affirmative action proclaims that these individuals are not capable of succeeding alone. In addition, it demeans true minority achievement. Those who succeed without affirmative action are not recognized as triumphant since they are overshadowed by others who succeed with affirmative action. Affirmative action legislation should be seen as a temporary boost; however, legislation that is in place is not easy to remove.
Affirmative action is a step toward a truly color blind and physical ability blind society. We seek diversity, and history shows us that this does not happen by chance, but rather needs an outside boost. It is reasonable to expect that people who start with a disadvantage should be given advantages not offered to those who are not considered to be discriminated against. It is safe to say that affirmative action will attract those who may not have even attempted to gain better employment conditions or a higher educational level in the past.
Affirmative action is certainly not the cure for all individual stereotyping and discrimination. However, in a broader sense, it may be possible to reduce our society’s overall attitudes of stereotyping as success rates increase for those who, in the past, did not experience great success in the workplace or in areas of education. Affirmative action should not be seen as compensation for past wrongs, but rather should be seen as simply the fair thing to do to balance our society and make a better tomorrow for us all.