Affirmative Action: New Interpretations and Realities

By Scott, K. Dow; Little, Beverly L. | Human Resource Planning, September 1991 | Go to article overview

Affirmative Action: New Interpretations and Realities


Scott, K. Dow, Little, Beverly L., Human Resource Planning


Executive Summary

Affirmative action emerged during the 1960s as a government-mandated strategy for rectifying the effects of past discrimination. Although the goal of providing equal opportunity for all citizens regardless of race or gender has never been questioned seriously, controversy has swirled around affirmative action with claims by non-minorities of "reverse discrimination" and complaints by employers of coercion to hire unqualified job applicants. This paper examines the relevance of affirmative action for the 1990s in light of changes in public policy and changes in society. It suggests that the judicious use of affirmative action can increase a company's competitiveness in increasingly diverse product and labor markets.

Two trends emerged in the 1980s that reshaped some of the basic tenets of corporate human resource (HR) planning. On the one hand, several 1989 Supreme Court decisions that addressed discrimination and affirmative action in the workplace sparked much discussion and controversy. It was argued that minority rights in the workplace (1) were gutted; others maintained that Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) defenses were relying on the same standard as other civil cases. The Bush administration and Congress have responded to the shift in the courts by attempting to articulate the country's stance toward equal opportunity and affirmative action through new civil rights legislation.

On the other hand, reports such as "Workforce 2000: Work and Workers for the 21st Century" (1987) apprised corporate America of ensuing changes in the work force and labor markets. The bulk of new entrants into the labor force during the 1990s are going to be older persons, or persons from a minority background, or immigrants, or females. Furthermore, there will be fewer qualified applicants from which to choose because far fewer people will be entering the labor force and those who do will be less skilled than the workers of the 1980s.

On the surface, these two trends appear to be contradictory. Simultaneous predictions of the death of affirmative action programs and projections of a work force composed primarily of women and minorities must have HR planners wondering which future scenario to address-one with less concern for women and minorities or one with more. Rather than ignoring one or both of these conflicting trends, HR planners should consider affirmative action as creative solution to these dual problems. Affirmative action need not be viewed only as a response to judicial and legislative intrusions, but as a proactive tool for increasing a company's competitive posture in changing labor and consumer markets.

This article examines the legal imperatives and the business realities that imply that affirmative action is far from an obsolete concept. Suggestions are made as to how affirmative action can be incorporated into HR plans for the 1990s.

Inception of Affirmative Action

Laws concerning equal employment opportunity emerged in the 1960s as a way to address discriminatory employment practices that were widespread in the United States. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it unlawful for employers covered by the Act to discriminate in the hiring, discharging, or treatment of an employee with respect to that person's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The term "affirmative action" was coined by the Johnson administration in 1965 as part of Executive Order 11246, which stated that U.S. policy was to provide equal employment and to rectify the effects of past discrimination. This concept was based on the idea that merely ceasing to do harm does not undo the wrongs of the past; hence, affirmative action programs have as their goal the equalization of opportunities in employment and government programs for historically disadvantaged groups. This can be done by taking into consideration the characteristics (race, gender, etc. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Affirmative Action: New Interpretations and Realities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.