Affirmative Action question

What is the difference between Affirmative Action and an Equal Opportunity Employer? Often, they are used interchangeably. Why do people complain that a company must hire minorities? Is this true? Are companies really forced to hire a set amount of minorities? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks?

Thanks for reading!

  • Honesty

As an employer, I would want to be able to hire the best candidate for the job. Such “affirmative action” or “equal opportunity” programs make a mockery of such a policy, (and in fact, of human equality) by mandating that a company must hire from a particular gender or ethnic group to meet a quota.

Legislating discrimination is not a step on the path to eliminating it.

Equal Opp. Emp. = We hire the best person for the job, and disregard race, sex, etc.

Affirm. Action = We consider race, sex, etc. and hire from an under-represented minority if possible.

At least, that’s how it works in theory…

The purpose of both is to reduce the main reason why people hire others.

Equal Opportunity is easier: it means that you will consider all applicants according to their quality of their resume and you will not automatically make judgments on the basis of their race, religion, etc. Fuji obviously thinks that’s a bad idea, so, logically, he wants to be able to put “No Irish Need Apply” (or whatever) when he hires.

The big myth about hiring is that people hire the best person qualified. This is demonstrably false (even ignoring the problem of what is meant by “best person.”) Despite what people say, being the best person for the job does not ensure you’ll get it (otherwise, why don’t employers just use resumes and not ask for an interview? A resume gives all the information about what you will do). People hire because they like the applicant (That’s why nearly all jobs require job interviews – to see if the employer will like the applicant).

And people tend to like people they are used to being with. Thus, a white employer is going to be more comfortable with a white employee. This gives an edge to white employees. Affirmative Action merely tries to eliminate the automatic edge a white person gets because of the color of his skin.

Note that it does not require that you hire more Blacks. It does require that you make an effort to recruit Blacks, but if you find they’re not qualified (other than because of their skin color), you are free to hire someone else. You just have to be able to document the reason you chose to hire the way you did.

In the U.S., various equal rights legislation is very clear, that employers are not required to hire more from a minority group to overcome past (possibly discriminatory) practices dated from before the legislation.

It’s a complicated area. “Affirmative Action” plans are not legally required, but are adopted by many employers to try to achieve a balanced workforce – thus, deliberately hiring more from minority groups.

This has been subject to suits about reverse discrimination. A white candidate who is rejected for a less qualified black candidate (for example) has a legitimate suit for racial discrimination. Court rulings have said that if the two candidates are essentially equally-qualified (or if there is only a slight difference), then it’s OK to hire the minority candidate.

What makes you think a resume even comes close to describing who is best for the job? In all the hiring I’ve done, the resume is used to filter people who appear to meet the bare minimum requirements, but it’s hardly sufficient to judge an applicant. Maybe if I were hiring someone to sit alone in a room and do a very specific job, and the resume indicated specific training for that job, then it would be enough. In reality, a large part of any job is interacting with teams, multitasking, troubleshooting, etc. These skills are generally not evident on a resume and only show up in interviews and testing.

No, a racist white employer is going to be more comfortable with a white employee. Speaking as a white employer, I’m most comfortable with smart people who can get the job done. Your presumtion that I’m a racist pretty much guarantees you wouldn’t get the job since it shows you lack basic logic skills.

Using the phrase, “reverse discrimination” implies only protected classes may be discriminated against. This is far from the truth. Unlawful discrimination is discrimination. No more and no less. Traditionally, discrimination suits have been brought by women and minorities alleging unlawful discrimination. However, discrimination suits may be brought by anyone who feels they may have been wronged under the law, including white males. That such suits have a long history in support of women and minorities does not change he reality that the laws themselves are color-blind, so to speak.

Affirmative action is contentious because it implies that women and minorities should be given “extra points” as a long-term attempt to level the playing field. In essence, while the anti-discrimnination laws are color-blind, affirmative action creates an exemption to their color-blindness.

It’s not a debate! Does anyone have anything helpful to say, such as answering the OP’s question and explaining why some employers compelled to seek out minority employees? Is it because of government incentives? State laws? Public relations? A genuine interest in balancing out the discrimination in society? I don’t know, but I’d love to hear some facts for once, rather than hear more of the ass-born talk we’ve heard on this subject already!

Well, Pizzabrat, you hit some of them yourself. Having a diverse workforce helps you get state and local government contracts, and it is pretty good PR to boot. Add into the mix the fact that there are a number of employers out there that care about “making things right” and you get a confusing mess.

I have worked for one company in which supervisors of various levels are evaluated on their “workforce diversity.” That directly affects their paycheck, so there is a monetary incentive to achieve “diversity.”

But getting back to the OP, I think silenus pretty much nailed the answer very succintly.

The whole “makes a mockery” think sounds like a entry in GD, so I’ll leave that alone, but I had a question about your other assertion, and I wonder if it’s a nationality thing.

Isit the case in Canada that such programs have actual quotas?

Quotas are not a necessary part of the “Affirmative Action” programs in the United States, and in fact can earn a company unwanted scrutiny. Might even be unlawful, although I’ll defer to someone else on that.

If I recall my Business Law classes correctly, a privately-owned company can have quotas, but a governmental agency can’t. But that was too long ago, and my memory may be faulty, or they may have changed the laws since. “Quotas” is one of those words that just invites close scrutiny of your actions, so most avoid it.

Actually, there is a fair amount of evidence that most people tend to be much more comfortable around people with whom they associate on a regular basis. Thus (since our society is till pretty segregated by patterns of housing and neighborhoods), a majority of people most frequently are still more comfortable around people of their own cultural race. (This is less true now than it was 40 years ago.)

Given that background, there is no reason to assume that only “racist” whites will feel more comfortable around other whites and there is no reason to take offense by assuming that RealityChuck meant his comment as an accusation of racism. His comments could have been more nuanced, but as a generalization they can stand.

This will probably wind up in GD anyway, but there is no reason to send it over there, immediately.

As noted, Silenus has provided a pretty good objective answer.
Equal Opportunity indicates that an employer or real estate broker takes pains to make no distinction between applicants based on race.
Affirmative Action indicates that an employer (or whoever) actively seeks to recruit non-white and/or non-male employees.

Affirmative action also has two aspects that get fought over:
Quotas and outreach. The original Affirmative Action policies (both private and government) were eclusively outreach programs. In the early 1970s, several lawsuits resulted in specific groups (typically police departments, fire companies, or unions) being ordered to change thier hiring programs until some quota of “balance” had been achieved. Quotas have never been legislated and (beginning with Bakke in 1978) a number of privately implemented quota systems have been declared unlawful by several courts.
A problem that an employer, school, or vendor faces when accused of racist practices is that they need to be able to show numbers to prove to the court that their accuser is wrong. From this problem, a number of organizations have chosen to implement their own methods that appear to be de facto quota systems. Some quota systems are more obvious (generally in schools, where the courts have continued to send mixed messages about their legality), but there are very few employers who engage in actual quota systems and none of them are required by law–most of the AA laws bar quotas.

That comment is in poor taste. I may have misunderstood the terminology, but I suggest you read my post again to correct your understanding of my position.

As the poster of the OP, I concur with pizzabrat. Is it possible someone can answer my question if anyone knows? Do companies receive benefits when they hire minorities? Is there really a quota?


  • Honesty

See Post #9. There a number of hoops to jump through if you want to do business with the state, and one of them is a diverse workforce. If you are asking if companies get paid to hire minorities, or receive tax breaks, then the answer is no, they don’t. But an all-white company would find that it didn’t get the contracts it would have gotten if there were more varied backgrounds in their employment record.

Most of your questions have been answered:

*What is the difference between Affirmative Action and an Equal Opportunity Employer? Often, they are used interchangeably. *
This question has been answered at least three times.

*Why do people complain that a company must hire minorities? *
Because a company that never hires a minority who is then accused of racism or sexism in hiring or promotion will be hard pressed to defend themselves against the charges. Many companies have no or few minority employees and are never pressured to seek any, but such companies will tend to be found in regions of the U.S. where there are no minorities (or where minorities rarely seek the skill set for those careers).

Is this true? Are companies really forced to hire a set amount of minorities?
Already answered: No.

What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks?
The benefits are that companies who practice diversity in hiring and promotion will probably find more candidates for their positions than a company that practices discrimination based on some arbitrary standard of what sort of human they will even interview. There are more immediately tangible benefits for companies doing business with various government agencies when the government has specified that contracts will not be awarded to companies that do not demonstrate diversity in hiring and promotion. (These government contracts can have the effect of setting a de facto quota, but the courts have been knocking down many of these provisions for over 20 years and actual numerical quotas are quite rare.)

The drawbacks are that it is possible to have a company in some section of the country where the applicants for particular jobs simply tend to be white males. Those compaines would then have to work harder to “find” minority applicants, possibly passing over good applicants who happened to be white males.

To avoid this former situation, a number of large companies have imposed their own internal systems of quotas and such internal and not-required-by-law quotas often become targets that internal managers are required to hit regardless of the quality of applicanrts they find. Such programs can be self-defeating (unrealistically setting a goal that cannot reasonably be met) or they can be sabotaged by people who deliberately hire the “next (unqualified) minority off the street” with the intent to “prove” that the company policies are bad. They can also work quite well when the goals are realistic and the managers are not intent on sabotage.

(The “minority” group that Affirmative Action has provided the ost benefits has been white women.)

Fuji Kitakyusho, your first post was an expression of a philosophical debate point that does not actually answer the specific questions regarding the terms (found in U.S. commerce and law) “Equal Opportunity” and “Affirmative Action.” (As regards “Equal Opportunity” your answer is factually incorrect.) As such, it does not belong in this thread.

I’m not sure what you’re saying here, but it appears to be a mis-statement. In the U.S., ONLY protected classes may NOT be discriminated against. The protected classes are gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age over 40, and disability. No anti-discrimination is given beyond these protected classes.

For example, age discrimination applies only to those over age 40. You are free to discriminate against those under age 40. You are free to discriminate against people who are overweight or underweight, or over or under a certain height (so long as there is no correlation to nationality or race, for instance.)

Now, of course, everyone is a member of a protected class. “Gender” includes both male and female, for instance. Race includes black, white, Asian, native American, etc. and any mixture thereof. The term “reverse discrimination” is used because there is a common misconception (for instance0 that gender discrimination means females, which is not so.