Affirmative Action

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Affirmative action can be interpreted as affirming, as a right and a policy of social and economic justice, opportunities for historically and culturally hampered categories of individuals and groups to gain entrance into domains of education and employment that would, in the absence of facilitating legislation, remain difficult, if not impossible, for them to penetrate.

Part of the rationale for such programs and laws is that, without them and because of discrimination, the future of such groups would be much less likely to ever differ from their circumscribed past. Implicit in the motivation to establish affirmative action is the hope that such policies and programs will elevate the performance as well as the opportunities of those covered by them, e.g., racial minorities, ethnic groups and women, while addressing and redressing their historical and current grievances.

Critics of affirmative action, evidencing the complexity of the issues and challenges of social justice, have protested that in leveling the playing field of opportunity, the programs are not only, in various instances, flattening performance curves by making them broader, but also addressing discrimination by re-institutionalizing it, through a kind of reverse discrimination.

Affirmative action was created as a way to level the playing field for under-represented minority groups. It can apply to many aspects of candidate selection, with special emphasis on educational and workplace applicants. The system is designed to help minority groups reestablish themselves, having been hampered by decades, if not centuries, of discrimination and exploitation. It was first implemented in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson as a way to counteract the policies of businesses and colleges that were actively discriminating against minorities.

While some consider affirmative action to be making things equal based upon history, some feel that it is a form of reverse discrimination. Some countries have actually outlawed affirmative action by invoking this justification.

Regardless of the varying positions on the concept, it is in practice in the United States. Some educational institutes use financial guidelines to assist specific minority groups that would otherwise be less likely to be accepted.

When hiring for your company it is important to be sure that you balance your need to select the most qualified individuals who will prove most profitable for your company, while still maintaining a diverse population of employees. By hiring the most qualified candidates you are ensuring your company stays competitive in its given field.

Having a diverse population not only serves what is widely perceived to be the cause of social and economic justice, but also broadens the range of opinions, concepts, and perspectives within the organizational structure, which can help in marketing, planning and many other realms of business. Using affirmative action can also make a company be viewed more favorably by a target consumer or applicant pool.
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