At the beginning of the XXI century, the policy of affirmative action is still of vital importance. Politics and human rights policy have changed significantly throughout the previous century. Unfortunately, not all the problems of equal opportunities at the workplace have been solved. For females and minority employees, affirmative action proposes great opportunities to be equally treated and protected (to some extent).
Nevertheless, there are some disadvantages of these policies. They include low-qualifies fork force and low-personal achievements of employees involved in the affirmative action programs (Anderson et al 1999). During half a century, affirmative action policies have proved their effectiveness, but cannot “abolish” gender and racial inequalities. For this reason, training and promotion activities as a part of affirmative action are vital for successful organizational performance. To over come these possible threats the organization should conduct programming of specific human resources activities, based on personal development and human capital policies.
Recent years, affirmative action has stigmatized the white men. Perhaps the least responsible of any harm to ethnic groups and gender differences in employment is the young white men frequently a democrat who has been obligatory to punish because of past injustice. “The idea that our deep moral obligations are to do things to help disadvantaged people of any sort, and not to give preferential treatment to any racial group, is one that strikes a chord in many people” (Affirmative Action Summary 2006).
Also, affirmative action helps to break stereotypes of black people and minority groups as lazy and low qualified professionals. This research paper seeks to examine the role and importance of affirmative action in modern organizations and their impact on employees and organizational culture (Anderson et al 1999).
Affirmative Action: Background
From my own experience I know that modern organizations play a major and continuing role in the lives of employees, especially with the growth of large-scale business organizations and the divorce of ownership from management. Organizations of one form or another are a necessary part of a society and serve many important needs. The decisions and affirmative actions of management in organizations have an increasing impact on employees, other organizations and the community. It is important, therefore, to understand the role of affirmative action and the pervasive influences which it exercises over the behavior of people.
In the XXI century, the debate over pros and cons of affirmative action is still alive. Heated discussions concern the role of affirmative action in organizational development and its impact on HR management. Working with the Internet provider, I came to conclusion that many organizations misunderstood the concept of affirmative action and its importance for employees (Anderson et al 1999). On the other hand, modern organizational management is particularly criticized for his authoritarian style. Modern organizational management resists the projects and racial minority employees for a long time.
Following the work in the task force, modern organizational management systematically starts to work on its weaknesses. In contrast, the affirmative action programs facing the challenge of a currently successful organization need to focus more on reallocating their existing resources. As they put significant and visible investments into the launch of their corporate transformation process, they powerfully signal that something major, new, and different is about to happen.
As they begin to change large resources away from businesses and activities that are not compliant with the new vision and direction toward those that are on the new critical direction, they further support the sense of commitment to change and clarify its meaning and direction Instead, they tend to work harder using the methods that have led them to success in the past, and to drive the employees under them to work faster, come in earlier, and stay later.
The changes in performance expectations that represent stretch goals cannot be mastered by relying on old approaches and techniques. The aim of the research paper is to investigate the main factors of discrimination and the main employee groups affected by discrimination. What factors lead to discrimination? What policies are introduced by organizations to level gender and radial differences? Why is the implementation of affirmative action policies crucial for modern companies? How the affirmative action policies are introduced by organizations? Considering alternatives is also important because it often shows that planning for innovation has been done very superficially, with little consideration of the variety of possible impacts.
This analysis is likely to expose the underlying purpose of a proposed innovation. These goals might be reached in other ways, however, without the job reductions that often accompany the introduction of robots. Talk to the people in charge of planning the innovation, and talk to other people in the organization who are knowledgeable about the subject but are not involved in the planning. Consult experts from labor unions, universities, and other institutions. Ask about the possible effects of alternatives to the planned innovation. The paper will ask about other possibilities that might achieve the same goals (Anderson et al 1999).
The current literature defines and stipulates the main principles of affirmative actions policies and their role within originations. The book “The Ups and Downs of Affirmative Action Preferences” by Anderson et al (1999) gives a detailed description of affirmative policies and their application in organizations. These researchers see affirmative action as a set of policies aimed to provide fair-haired employment and promotion for all races and ethnic groups.
Also, it can be seen as special treatment of minorities and female employees in employment. The researchers underline that powerful interest groups within the administration at the federal level as well as at the state and local governments had already developed that strongly supported affirmative action policies. The modern management has to keep revising its regulations on Affirmative action as legal decisions on this issue were made. Today, rigorous affirmative action programs, which help redistribute wealth and opportunities, are still necessary. This source will help to answer the question about affirmative actions plans and procedures.
Anderson et al (1999) explain that affirmative action plan is a written document which stipulates procedure of employment and promotion and ensures that all employees are equally treated. The plan includes policy statement, internal and eternal communication procedure, assignment of responsibility and organizational analysis, workforce analysis and availability analysis, utilization and employment analysis, identification o problem areas and upward mobility and discrimination grievances procedure, internal program evaluation, promotional goals and innovative programs, goals and timetables.
Following Anderson et al (1999): “Especially significant in this regard was Executive Order 10925, issued by President John E Kennedy in 1961, which called on federal government 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” (7-8). The necessity of affirmative action was caused by dominance by white males in American workforce. At the middle of the XX century they occupied the majority of managerial positions and many of the more important blue-collar jobs. The role of women was to occupy lower-paying positions.
The book “Reversing Discrimination: The Case for Affirmative Action” by Horne (2002) will help to answer the question of discrimination and the main causes of current discrimination cases. The author states that racial minorities found considerable barriers to entering the labor market at the higher paying levels. The need of affirmative action is still an issue of the day, because employees are discriminated in many aspects of life and work.
The discrimination issue is evident in the selection process when job-seekers are directly discriminates. Some types of discrimination are acceptable (in such professions as builders or firemen when physical strengths in needed) but others are not, and have been made unlawful. The other problem is that most raced-based affirmative action really is socioeconomic class-based programs, as so many African-American people helped by affirmative action are from the lower economic sphere.
Affirmative action most benefits those African-American people who are already well off to begin with, as they are the ones best prepared and trained for the prestige jobs sought through affirmative programs. These policies that have the effect of making it harder for other job seekers to enter certain professions are not the same sort of “discrimination” as affirmative action that deliberately made it harder for blacks to enter certain professions.
The research study made by Dietz-Uhler and Murrell (1998) allow to say that culture is important in two ways in affirmative action – first, in respect of the whole range of approaches to cultural diversity, organizational culture is a determinant of the way that organizations treat individuals from different groups. Equal opportunity approaches tended to concentrate on behavior and, to a small extent, attitudes, whereas management of diversity approaches recognizes a need to go beneath this. So changing the culture to one which treats individuals as individuals and supports them in developing their potential is critical, although the difficulties of culture change make this a very difficult task.
The research study conducted by Kamalu and Kamalu (2004) shows that the necessity of affirmative action can be explained by the fact that there are always certain groups in any society that are discriminated against unfavorably due to the prejudices and preconceptions of the people with whom they have to deal. These preconceptions are sometimes verbalized, but often not, and the people holding these preconceptions may well be unaware of the way that they see and judge things and people.
However, these preconceived ideas influence the actions of the people who hold them, and the way they deal with others. The effects of this can be seen in the employment arena, as this is inextricably linked with discrimination in the rest of society. These offer some useful perspectives and practices, although the underlying concepts also raise some issues and concerns. These researchers argue that: ,
“the non-beneficiaries of the affirmative action are nonetheless, willing philosophically to see justice done; they resist all attempts to implement the program on the rationale that it denies them the opportunity to advance” (Kamalu, Kamalu 2004, 489).
The main arguments ‘for’ affirmative action involve: breaking the stereotypes, equal results, compensation and diversity issues. From the managerial point of view, disadvantaged seekers, who have already been identified, are women, people from other racial backgrounds, disabled people and older people, and in the USA there is legislation protecting the employment rights of the first three of these four groups. The roots of affirmative action go very deep, and in relation to women concern challenging a system of institutional discrimination and anti-female conditioning in the prevailing culture
The article by Rubenfeld (1997) will help to answer the question of Why is the implementation of affirmative action policies crucial for modern companies? How the affirmative action policies are introduced by organizations? in the research study, Rubenfeld (1997) identifies the following arguments for affirmative action: paternalism, race and argument from precedent. “The paternalism argument claims that the preferential treatment affirmative action bestows upon minorities is in fact “poisonous” and that affirmative action is constitutionally noxious to members of the very groups it ostensibly benefits” (430).
Today, the debate concerns the action that should be taken to lessen the disadvantages of minority employees. For instance, one origination can support governmental action, while the other argues that this will not be efficient and that the only way to change essentially is to alter the attitudes and preconceptions that are held about these employees. The initial emphasis on legal action is adopted in the hope that this would eventually affect attitudes towards minority employees and women. Though, there have been some efforts to change attitudes directly in addition to this. The argument explains that: “this categorical difference is attributable both to the special dangers of racism in American society and to the special role of race in the history of the Equal Protection Clause” (Rubenfeld 1997, 431).
Stroud (1999) and Patterson (19980 underline that a national drive to promote equal opportunities for women at work began in 1992 with the aim of committing employers to going through a three-stage process of: auditing existing policies; setting measurable goals; making a public commitment from top management to achieving them. Organizations achieve their own goals in line with their business objectives. One practical result of this drive was that Iceland Frozen Foods pledged to increase the proportion of female store managers from under 10 per cent to 15 per cent by the end of the year.
The article “The affirmative action debacle: how a 20th century solution is becoming America’s 21st century problem” discusses modern policies and problems caused by inadequate affirmative action principles applied by some organizations. Martinez (1997) states
“members of minority groups, females, the hard core disadvantaged, persons with disabilities, veterans, and persons more senior in age than most or who have sexual preference differences. People and groups of people typically discriminated against on the job, in promotional consideration, in employment retention, in hiring, in services and in admissions”.
In spite positive effects of affirmative action, some researchers prove negative influence of this policy on company’s performance and HRM. In his study “A Case Against Affirmative Action”, Arnold Barnett (1996) proves the fact that affirmative action has an extremely negative impact on human resources: “We argue here against extreme affirmative action, which we define as preferential treatment based on ethnicity and/or gender that routinely results in the selection of less-qualified individuals over more qualified ones”.
This view point is supported by substantial results and statistical data, nevertheless this author examine on one side of this problem, namely, the necessity to recruit of low-educated and low-qualified workforce according EEOC and the Civil Rights Act. Gary Becker states “employers, universities, and other organizations should make special efforts to find qualified members of minority groups, persons who might have been overlooked because of their poor family backgrounds or the bad schools they attended” (On Affirmative Action-BECKER, 2005).
Researchers underline that affirmative action policy cannot be considered in isolation from the remuneration policy (Anderson et al 1999). Wages may account for up to 80 per cent of total costs in some industries. The objects of a policy of remuneration are: to attract and retain sufficient staff of the required caliber to meet the organization’s objectives; to provide staff with incentives for better work; to have a policy which is logical and consistent, easily understandable and flexible.
After objectives, policies and priorities have been determined, the methods of remuneration to be used to achieve them should be considered, i.e. job evaluation, merit rating, incentive schemes and fringe benefits. An employee may expect promotion as an outcome of a high level of contribution (input) in helping to achieve an important organizational objective. People also compare their own position with that of others. They determine the perceived equity of their own position.
Feelings about the equity of the exchange are affected by the treatment they receive when compared with what happens to other people. Today, affirmative action covers a range of approaches and emphases, some closer to equal opportunities, some very different. In reality, there remains the question of the extent to which approaches have really changed in organizations. Equal opportunities in may just be a way of making it more palatable in today’s climate, may be used to revitalize the equal opportunities agenda.
Analysis of the Problem
The facts mentioned above show that at the beginning of the new millennium affirmative action is a ’double-side coin’ with both positive and negative results for community, employees and the organizations. Affirmative action programs seek to develop a community in which job seekers are not barred from opportunities because of their color of skin or gender differences (Baqley and Connerty 2000). To do this, many current programs are put in place in which employees with better qualifications are disqualified from certain professions because of their color and gender. Such disagreement has been too much for many employees to live comfortably with. Certainly, the very legality of such affirmative action policies under the Constitution has been frequently questioned.
Thus even the most competent African-American em[players are tainted and stigmatized as a direct result of the implementation of affirmative action programs. The thought that moral responsibilities are to do things to help disadvantaged employees of any sort, and not to give preferential treatment to any racial or ethnic group, is one that strikes a chord in many people. “However, if individuals believe a standard selection procedure is a fair rational for hiring applicants, then this positive evaluation of the policy will result in positive evaluations of the applicant and acceptance of affirmative action” (Dietz-Uhler, Murrell 1998, 933).
In addition, affirmative action legislation places the burden of racial differences and social problems on the employer who does not provide an “adequate” representation of all national groups. Today, many organizations are forced to hire different ethnic groups in order to avoid lawsuits and fines being accused in discrimination. for some job seekers, affirmative action programs become an important tools for addressing invidious ‘race’ discrimination.
For civil rights laws to work, enforcement by the legal agencies and the administration is important. Still long affirmative action programs and other anti-discrimination tools applied by organizations, fighting ‘race’ and sex discrimination requires using all of the methods available to government and the public. Rubenfeld identifies the case of ‘Brown v. Board of Education” as one of the arguments for affirmative action.
He states that this case “rested on the express ground that separate-but-equal public schooling, no matter how equivalent in tangible respects, generated in black children “a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community” that the Constitution did not tolerate” (Rubenfeld 1997, 432). Facts rather than prejudice, and relevant information rather than irrelevant information, are important measures in determining what type of discrimination is acceptable.
In a democratic system of government, the other tool appears to be a powerful political movement led by people of color. The next stage in the evolution of human rights theory is the realization that positive affirmative action principles to overcome the effect of biased employment practices on ethnical minority groups and women with fixed characteristics – whether those practices are intentional or not – could not be measured as discrimination against these employees who do not share those characteristics (Barnett, 1996).
Affirmative action also hurts African-American people by the effect it has on white peoples’ attitudes toward them. As long as their exist policies of affirmative action, in which less qualified employees can be selected over more qualified employees when the less qualified people are of the proper nationality, then white professionals will usually tend to subtly assume that African-American people in occupations of prestige got there, not on personal benefits, but through administration (Kamalu and Kamalu 2004).
Cultures devise symbols to label things around them. Important things are given specific names and less important things are given general names. Different cultures may have different meanings for the same symbol or word. Many words are culture-based and have no direct translation. The ability to communicate with other people requires words to have basically the same meanings. Symbols are arbitrary and sometimes can have several diverse meanings (Horne, 2002).
The modern pattern’s of female’s employment decreases the incentives for both women and employers to engage in their promotion and career development. Though this situation explains the place for some it does not explain the place of those women who invest their time in education and development (Baqley, Connerty As noted earlier, touching has many cultural meanings. It may communicate power and authority to another person. It may suggest the wish to become intimate with another person.
Or it may imply that the toucher wants to get the other person’s attention, support, or empathy. It may be a salutation or farewell. Rubenfeld (1997) expresses the idea that: “Those who argue that affirmative action is unfair and therefore unconstitutional–or moral and therefore constitutional–seem to think that the rest of the legal system would not have to be radically overhauled if constitutional law condemned all governmental unfairness” (460).
In order to succeed in modern environment and level racial and gender differences and discrimination, leaders and managers should introduce affirmative action programs based on organizational needs and moral principles of business (Rubenfeld, 1997).
Each affirmative action program consisted of the area manager (task force leader), one or two managers, two or three supervisors (with leadership functions), and a number of employees equal to the total number of managers on the task force. In addition, each affirmative action program should be assisted by two facilitators: one member of the company’s personnel office and one of the consultants. While management representatives are chosen by the chief executive, the employees selected their own representatives to serve on their task force. Following Dietz-Uhler and Murrell (1998):
“Although the human capital model focuses on negative reactions to the target as a form of resistance to affirmative action, it does not take into account the relationship between the perceiver and the target in accounting for evaluations of affirmative action applicants… people favor affirmative action policies if they have a vested interest in them” (933).
Employee selection followed a presentation of the project at a corporate area meeting with all employees. The programs will be introduced regularly every two to four weeks. They determined the meeting dates as well as the length of each meeting. To start with, all task group members received the results of the organizational assessment. In addition, all participants received some guidelines for how the task force was to operate.
Each affirmative action then decided which topics it wanted to tackle first. The topics selected were prioritized, and the group decided how much time should be spent on each issue. Discussions and results of the affirmative action meetings were recorded on a flip chart and summarized in minutes which were distributed to all members. The diversity must swing both ways: majority-group and minority-group employees must learn to co-exist in organization climates foreign to them.
All employees must learn written and unwritten rules of diversity. It usually is what the role of the protected class person is to be: He or she is the individual to be helped. There is little controversy in America concerning policies that target discrimination on racial or ethnic or religious grounds. The laws that have made discrimination on grounds of ‘race’, religion, and national origin, in employment and in many other key areas of life, illegal, are solidly established, and are disputed only by a few.
The analysis reveals that progress is slow and the number of women holding senior managerial positions is still insignificant. On-the-job training increases employee pay and other rewards as work experience increases, because productivity increases, and employers are said to make specific investments such as executive training of their employees. Training and development are also proposed to lead to promotion to top management by developing knowledge, skills, credibility, and credentials and thus expertise and power.
The further research will have to identify the differences between ethnic minorities and female employees in terms of discrimination and wage differences. It is important to investigate cross-cultural differences and multicultural conflicts convoluted because of the many identities found within cultures. The issues multiple identities include Catholic African Americans and Hispanic nations. Too, cross-cultural differences due to geographic place may have little to do with race.
For instance, inner-city poverty-stricken employees suffer from low income more so than racial discrimination. in research literature, to be given to differences within multiple identity employees. It is crucial be aware of the diversity within ethnic employees as well as between them.
Understanding the history of modern discrimination, the current stage of its national and social differences, and its relationships with other social classes is critical to recognizing and resolving cross-cultural differences. Specially, an ethnic group’s causes for coming to the United States can provide valid information pertaining to intercultural differences. Some ethnic minorities are searching for liberty from religious persecution that drove them from their mother country, or escape from ethnic treatment, or job opportunities not available in their native state. For others, migration is the only a way to stay alive in political oppression. And others–Africans–are trying to get out from their lives a history of being suppressed and sold as chattel possessions.
The possibility to exchange ideas is a primary vehicle for managing discrimination, expediting decision-making, and evaluating professionals’ performances. For affirmative action programs, cultural differences are communicated in language and religion. In further research, it is crucial to single out attributions or decisions managers and leaders make about their employees, including stereotypes and ethnocentrism. It is important to mention that not all racial stereotypes are negative. Positive stereotypes also improve cultural acceptance.
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Barnett, A. (1996). “A Case Against Affirmative Action”. Building Equal Opportunity On Firmer Footing. 23 (4). Web.
Dietz-Uhler, B., Murrell, A.J. (1998). Evaluations of Affirmative Action Applicants: Perceived Fairness, Human Capital, or Social Identity? Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 38 (11-12), 933.
Horne, G. (2002). Reversing Discrimination: The Case for Affirmative Action. International Publishers.
Kamalu, J.A., Kamalu, N.C. (2004). From Bakke to Grutter: The Supreme Court and the Struggle over Affirmative Action in the Era of Globalization. The Western Journal of Black Studies, 28 (2), 489.
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Stroud, S. (1999). The Aim of Affirmative Action. Social Theory and Practice, 25 (3), 385.