Diversity and Affirmative Action in Public Service

By Walter D. Broadnax | Go to book overview
Advancement within the governmental system is generally a function of adherence to established organizational norms; one of these norms historically has been that one need not be concerned about the needs or priorities of minority communities.
Informal pay and promotional quotas still seem to exist for minority administrators; moreover, it is assumed that they can only fill certain types of positions, usually related to social service delivery or to communication with other minority group members.
Minority communities sometimes expect much more of the minority administrator than he/she can provide; and in most cases demand a far faster response to their demands than these administrators have developed the capacity to deliver.
Agencies seem to search for the "super" minority administrator; and even these are frequently hired as show pieces. In other cases there has been evidence of agencies hiring individuals who clearly would be unable to do a job with the intent of showing that an effort was made but "they just can't do this kind of work."

While other dilemmas might be identified, this brief listing seems to reinforce the argument that the task of being a minority administrator within public agencies is not an easy one. Moreover, in the short run the challenges reflected in these dilemmas may become greater in magnitude as governments at all levels fail to address in a meaningful fashion such quality of life problems as hunger, health, housing, etc.


Conclusion

For almost two centuries, minority groups have been systematically excluded from making inputs into the administrative processes of government as both decision makers and policy implementors. In the final analysis, it is now the responsibility of governmental leaders generally to expand opportunities for the perspectives of minority administrators to be articulated and acted upon. This responsibility derives not only from executive orders and congressional mandates, but also from the reality that there frequently is a minority perspective on public problems which policy makers should understand if public programs are to be truly responsive and effective.

Schools of public affairs also have a major charge to educate more minority administrators to assume these critical positions. The frequently criticized decrease in foundation monies previously utilized to provide financial assistance to these students must not be utilized as a cop-out to explain away lack of effort in this regard. The minority academic also has a role to play in supporting these efforts to provide the kind of professional training essential to the development of the number and caliber of top-flight minority administrators so critically needed in

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