Diversity Training Manual
The purpose of this training manual is to train and sensitize the employees on the myriad of diversity issues. This section of the training manual is meant to provide a framework of the pertinent legislation pertaining to employee diversity issues. The purpose of this section is to demonstrate to the employees the legal ramifications of participating in discriminatory behaviors in and around the workplace.
Affirmative Action/positive discrimination
Affirmative action includes the policies integrated into an institution or organization with the aim of improving employment and education opportunities for persons who have been historically segregated in American society. These historically segregated people include women, disabled persons and persons from certain ethnic backgrounds such as Native Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans. It is widely acknowledged that the 14th Amendment of 1866 paved the way for affirmative action.
Affirmative action can also be described as the federal agenda created in the 1960s that set to correct the historic discrimination that women, ethnic minorities, and other underrepresented groups faced at the time. The federal government intended to foster diversity in schools and jobs as well as compensate the groups for all the ways they had been historically mistreated through the affirmative action programs.
Intent of Affirmative-Action Legislation
Affirmative Action was born because of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, a movement aimed to ensuring that women and members of certain ethnic minorities get equal opportunities to education and employment. In the 1960s, the policy required educational institutions, government contractors, and private employers to use it in order to increase the number of minorities entering employment and educational institutions. The initial intent of affirmative action was thus to give marginalized individuals an equal footing when it came to access to educational and employment opportunities.
In other words, when President Kenned issued Executive Order 10925 making affirmative action legal, his intent was to end discrimination in the country. This is because Affirmative action prioritizes the placement of the historically discriminated individuals into professions and educational institutions that they were barred access to in the past.
Conclusion of the Bakke v. Regents case
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978) was a monumental case decided by the Supreme Court. The Court upheld the principles of affirmative action, which in essence meant that colleges could use race among other several factors in admitting students into the institutions. However, it ruled that the setting of placement quotas for minority students was impermissible. The Supreme Court ruled that the affirmative action program in the University of California was violating the rights of white applicants. Consequently, Bakke was admitted into the university to pursue medicine.
The basis of the conclusion was that the school had unlawfully discriminated against Bakke based on his race. The court ruled in this manner because implementing a quota placement system was in clear violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. However, the tenets of affirmative action programs in schools were upheld because they promoted ethnic diversity in the classroom, a major national issue. They ruled that race should only be a ‘plus-factor’ rather than the determinative element in selection of students (Ball, 2000).
Positive and Negative Results of Affirmative Action
The main argument in favor of affirmative action is its ability to increase diversity in academic institutions as well as in the workforce. At the same time, it reduces discrimination against members of certain groups, which is still prevalent even today although in subtle measures. Tolerance amongst people of different cultures, races, sex, or religion is also promoted through the efforts affirmative action. This is because individuals are exposed to a variety of people in school and in the workplace.
There is also the premise of distributive justice whereby the descendants of historically segregated and mis-treated minority groups get a sense of justice for all the wrongdoing carried out against their ancestors. It is a way of leveling the playing field and compensating for centuries of oppression, segregation, slavery, and mis-treatment.
It is a widely accepted fact that many people from minority groups face systemic barriers that hinder them from joining their university or profession of choice. Affirmative action seeks to eliminate these systemic barriers by offering members from minority groups an equal footing in competing in their selected spheres of life.
There are several criticisms of the role that affirmative action plays especially in American schools. One major criticism is that the affirmative actions employed in many major academic institutions are not benefiting the people it was intended originally to benefit. For instance, the main premise underlying affirmative action in colleges is to allow more ethnic minority students to attend university. However, reports have surfaced that show this might not be the case on the ground.
Harvard has come under a lot of scrutiny of late because the large number of black students in its campus is immigrants or children of immigrants. Almost two-thirds of black students originate from Africa or the Caribbean. This means that black-Americans, those who have resided in the country for generations are not getting access to education opportunities in the school. The same scenario is repeating itself across American colleges and even the indigenous Asian Americans are often under-represented compared to the foreign-born Asians. This has led to questions on whether voluntary immigrants should be beneficiaries of affirmative action (Jaschik, 2009).
Another criticism of affirmative action is that it leads to preferential selection. This is the selection based on gender or race because an entity such as a school or company wants to ‘diversify’. Critics assert that preferential selection robs other able people from having access to education and employment. It gives individuals from ethnic minorities an edge over other qualified candidates from other ethnicities. Universities in Florida and Texas have scrapped off affirmative action programs because of the far-reaching consequences of preferential selection.
Other negative consequences of affirmative action include undermining the achievements of those belonging to minority groups. They are allowed into universities and secure jobs based on their skin color rather than their academic performance or professional qualifications. Affirmative action also encourages individuals to identify with being disadvantaged even if it is not the case. There is also the imminent risk of racial tension, as the policies tend to benefit the privileged in minority communities at the expense of the poor/least fortunate in majority ethnic groups. In addition, affirmative action reduces the incentives of members of both majority and minority groups to perform their best. In the former’s case, performing one’s best might prove futile while in the latter’s case it might be unnecessary as they are bound to get a placement based on preferential selection.
Another negative consequence of affirmative action is mismatching. This is the negative effect of affirmative action when a student is placed in a course or college too difficult for him or her. Mismatching can also occur in employment circles where the job is not a good fit for the selected candidate (Sander & Taylor, 2012; Arcidiacono, Aucejo, Fang, & Spenner, 2009).
Appropriateness of Affirmative Action Legislation at this time
The need for affirmative action is constantly being called into question nowadays. States such as California have even abandoned the practice in government entities. Many have argued that the playing field is more less level nowadays for any individual regardless of race, ethnic background, sex, or creed. Critics of affirmative action continue to assert that sexism and racism are no longer as pervasive as they were once upon a time. They also argue that affirmative action is counterproductive in fighting against racism and sexism. This is because affirmative action programs require employers and academic institutions to look at race and sex to determine if a candidate should be accepted. Therefore, affirmative action may not be as appropriate for this day and age as it was in the previous century.
Ball, H. (2000). The Bakke case: Race, education, and affirmative action. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.
Arcidiacono, P., Aucejo, E., Fang, H., &Spenner, K. (2009). Does affirmative action lead to mismatch? A new test and evidence.
Jaschik, S. (2009, March 17). Black (immigrant) admissions edge. Retrieved on 7/11/2015 from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/03/17/immigrant
Sander, R., & Taylor, S. (2012). Mismatch: How affirmative action hurts students it’s intended to help, and why universities won’t admit it. New York, NY: Basic Books.