Diversity and Affirmative Action in Public Service

By Walter D. Broadnax | Go to book overview

tion. If these decisions are to be responsive to the needs and desires of the people, then it is essential that those making them be truly representative of an segments of the population. 20

Affirmative action in government, as a part of the total effort to develop a societywide structure of equal employment opportunity, is therefore a potentially valuable contributor to the social effectiveness of public administration on all levels of government. Through the concept of representative bureaucracy and its functions, there is a bridge between the policies and practices called "affirmative action" and the efforts to realize democratic values which have characterized the American experience.

A pervasive structure of equal opportunity employment is a prerequisite to a stable pattern of representative bureaucracy. Equal opportunity, as all of our symposium participants have emphasized, is a basic element of true merit systems. The "open door" is fundamental to the merit philosophy as it has evolved in the United States. That "door" must really be open to everybody, and the procedures and techniques used to select personnel have to be carefully evaluated and adapted to reflect new knowledge about their consequences for administrative effectiveness.

Experience tells us that simply opening the door is not enough to guarantee equal opportunity or representative public agencies. The public employer must move through the door into the environment, search out, attract, and develop a representative and competent manpower base for the public service. Representativeness and competence are not contradictory. They are mutually reinforcing and can be integrated if administrative resources, knowledge, and imagination are brought to bear on the task. In the final analysis, this challenge is the essence of affirmative action.

Lloyd G. Nigro, Syracuse University


Notes
1.
For a summary of court decisions regarding quotas, see Herbert Hill, "Preferential Hiring, Correcting the Demerit System," Social Policy, July-August 1973, pp. 96-102.
2.
For further discussion of this problem as it relates to an actively professionalizing sheriff's department, see Catherine Lovell, "Accountability Patterns of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department," Institute on Law and Urban Studies, manuscript, November 1973.
3.
Statement of League President George William Curtis, quoted in National Civil Service Reform League , The Year's Work in Civil Service Reform ( New York: NCSRL, 1884), p. 16.
4.
Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 ( 1971).

-161-

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