Affirmative action is a policy initiative in which a person’s origin, religion, gender, race, and color are considered to increase the opportunities that are accessible to the underrepresented part of society. These opportunities can be in government, business entities, or educational facilities. There have often been debates surrounding affirmative action pros and cons, with proponents and critics all having their say.
In the debate surrounding affirmative action pros and cons, critics argue that the policy leads to further discrimination, stigmatization, and unplanned diversity. Those who support the policy, on the other hand, argue that it reduces stereotypes, forces employers to make the right decisions, and increases companies’ customer bases. We take a look at the main pros and cons of affirmative action.
Arguments for affirmative action
Here are the main advantages of the policy.
Reduction of stereotypes
One of the most common affirmative action arguments is that polarization in most countries is occurring because people are choosing to surround themselves with like-minded neighbors and co-workers. The policy, in its promotion of diversity, can help to stop stereotypes because it creates interactions between groups that may not choose to interact with each other if given a choice. This is one of the main reasons why affirmative action is good.
Creation of a wider customer base
When companies implement policies related to diversity, their customer bases are bound to increase. How does this happen? Take the example of a coffee shop that caters mostly to white women. If the management of this café employs several blacks and Hispanics, the customer base from the said racial groups will increase. This is because people generally feel more comfortable being served by people with whom they can relate.
The program forces employers to make justified decisions
Companies that implement affirmative action policies ensure that their managers make justified decisions. For example, various groups of people might have historically received preferential treatment at the expense of others.
With a diversity policy in place, a hiring manager, for instance, has to lay aside his bias and follow the policies implied by the existence of affirmative action.
Correction of adverse historical economic situations
In most capitalist countries, an individual’s wealth is greatly influenced by the status of previous generations. Resources are based on accumulation, and therefore those with wealthy parents or grandparents are highly likely to succeed in life as compared to those from impoverished backgrounds. Affirmative action makes sure that those in the current generation have equal chances of accessing the available opportunities.
Arguments against affirmative action
Here are the main disadvantages of the policy.
In the affirmative action debate, the policy has often been criticized for creating a stigma against those who benefit from it. For example, members of a minority group who are employed in a company as a result of the policy may be left wondering why they were hired in the first place. Additionally, other employees in the organization might regularly view these employees as less-qualified.
There might be a notion that benefiting from affirmative action implies that you were not qualified for the position and only got it based on your skin color, gender, or another minority aspect. Critics, therefore, argue that affirmative action might end up contributing to the same vice it seeks to eliminate.
Diversity is not always good
Diversity for the sake of having it provides little benefit to a school, government entity, or business. There must be a purpose of seeking out a diverse environment for it to be beneficial. When a diversity program is in place, the goal of the program tends to slide toward meeting expectations or regulations instead of seeking out highly qualified people. If that slide occurs, diversity can hurt more than it can help.
Is affirmative action fair? Many critics of affirmative action argue that it is simply a case of reverse discrimination. By giving special treatments to only some people and not to others, the program causes racism to become even more prevalent. This also offers protection to minorities who commit violent crimes against other people.
Leads to unplanned diversity
Unplanned diversity comes about when employers are forced to diversify just to meet the requirements of affirmative action. Although every employer wants to bring in the best person for the job, when this practice is employed in the workplace, a person’s ethnicity or culture becomes just as important as their skill. We must create a planned diversity in the workplace to generate strength. If employers are hiring people in a way that helps them meet specific quotas, there is a good chance that this program will hurt them more than it will help.
This breakdown of the most significant affirmative action pros and cons proves how polarizing the issue is. On the one hand, it helps in the progression of previously alienated groups. On the other hand, though, critics have accused the policy of unfavorable outcomes in business entities and the society in general. What do you think about the policy?