Merriam-Webster Defines Affirmative Action as Action Taken for Inclusion

Categories: Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as, being an action or policy with an active effort to increase the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women. (Affirmative Action, 2018). This policy protects persons who have suffered of discrimination, based on their race, color, sex and national origin. Affirmative action is similarly extended towards veterans and people who are disabled. This policy gives individuals who have previously suffered discrimination the chances they need to progress in a challenging culture.

This policy by many is also considered reverse discrimination for allowing race, color, ethnicity, and past discrimination to influence the job and college acceptance of a person that is deemed unprivileged while a better candidate for a role exists.Many would argue that affirmative action is the only way that individuals who are discriminated against have an opportunity to prosper after centuries of receiving racism and after centuries of not having the same opportunities. Others claim this method is unfair because color does not always mean unprivileged when many people of color are millionaires and important figures in companies.

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If the richest person was of color, he or she would be deemed unprivileged by their skin tone. Individuals who have been discriminated against should also work and study rigorously to get job opportunities like the rest consequently; color shouldn't be a method of a company ensuring that it has diversity. Affirmative action covers federal and sub-contractors. This policy must be in effect for any non-construction contractor who has 50 or more employees, has a contract of $50,000 or more, is a financial institution which is issuing and paying agent for U.

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S savings bonds and has government bills of lading which in any 12 month period will outdo the total of $50,000 or more (Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, 2018). The organizations that are enclosed under affirmative action are generally: schools, retail stores, and restaurants employing more than 50 people to name a few. Many contractors are in favor because it allows greater diversity and in the eyes of some people in the government it is necessary to ensure diversity. President Donald Trump has confidence in that affirmative action in schools is leading to discrimination against whites therefore it should end regarding education. On the opposing side is past President Barack Obama who believes affirmative action in schools is necessary for diversity. In 1965, President John F. Kennedy was the first who signed the affirmative action policy created by The Executive order 10925. This policy mandated companies to not discriminate based on race, color, and national origin, and to ensure fair treatment in the hiring process. (What is Affirmative Action and Why Was it Created? n.d). This policy was later prolonged to include the same rights for women which was signed by President Johnson created by executive order 11375, the revised affirmative action now contains the word sex to not discriminate on sex and give equal opportunities to women. The purpose of this policy was to promote social equality, to give those who have been in disadvantage due to historical reasons such as slavery, an opportunity regarding education and in the workforce. This policy endorsed that there shouldn't be discrimination and that there should be an equal treatment in the workforce, but in recent years this policy has been re-interpreted. Many schools and workplaces are now hiring based on race, color, sex, and national origin, giving those a higher preference so that they can seem inclusive and have higher diversity. Recently, Harvard was sued for discrimination and considering race in college acceptance, It says this is one of many factors, and justified by the need to ensure a diverse student body (R.G, 2018). In recent years affirmative action has generated many controversies which has people on opposite sides of the spectrum. Should a prestigious and rigorous college accept students because of their background, hardships, and sex, and exclude others even if their scores are higher, or is this an illegal way to interpret the policy? It's easy to understand why the policy has be re-interpreted in recent years, the policy does not state specifically that you can't give someone with a disadvantage preference if faced with a higher, more fit for the job/ position candidate in the education aspect. A positive action that comes with this policy is ensuring diversity. Up until the 1980's the integration of black and white people in school was still unusual. When integration was happening, blacks were still suffering from color segregation, people of color always had a disadvantage in education and in places they could publicly be seen in, while white people always had the best education and the utmost opportunities. Ensuring diversity permits diverse viewpoints, critical thinking, valuable ideas, a way for business to increase their revenue by marketing to diverse groups, and different experiences. In an article by Scientific American, How diversity makes up smarter, it states the importance of diversity, The fact is that if you want to build teams or organizations capable of innovating, you need diversity. Diversity enhances creativity. (Phillips, 2014). In an article by ABC News, Affirmative action also allows innovation, growth, and the progress of the economy (Aung, 2007). The development of the economy is influenced significantly by this this policy because it extends help and opportunities to advance economically to everyone including women. Those who have been discriminated, have not been given an equal chance due to their sex, race and color but now play an important role in the economy, many now provide jobs to others and are important figures in history.There are many negative outcomes that exist by having the affirmative action policy with mostly all of them having to do with lowering qualifications for those with less advantages. The affirmative action policy sets the bar lower for others by accepting those of hardship backgrounds with lower scores and qualifications. The question is, are those who lose an opportunity to someone with less opportunities than them also being discriminated against even if they are not culturally challenged? Is discrimination happening against them? In an article by The Economist, A study by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor found that lowering the bar for black students lets them enter law schools for which they are ill-prepared, causing many to drop out (R.G, 2018). When schools accept someone that is not academically ready it's like they are setting them up for failure. When someone drops out, they won't try to go back to school, instead they will think they were not academically ready discouraging them in the long run. What dropping out of school will encourage will be a job with a minimum wage because they will believe they are not good enough. When it comes to an important topic such as school and a job opportunity, decisions shouldn't be taken lightly. Some people spend their entire high school career making sure that they have a chance to succeed by getting accepted to college and get a job offer. It seems unfair to lose an opportunity due to the affirmative action policy which will give others covered in the policy preference. There is nothing wrong with giving those who deserve an opportunity an opportunity, but there is a problem in giving those who are not academically ready. Color, race, and sex should not play an important part in determining employment or college acceptance, but rather focus on the positive an employee can provide to a company. The focus should be equality for everyone. The economic negative this action/policy implies are the equal wages that all employees will receive for the same position regardless if they are capable of correctly doing the job in places such as in retail stores where usually everyone is offered the same minimum wage. Regardless of the negative effects that affirmative action creates, it has been necessary in many cases for employees to give opportunities that perhaps would not be there if it weren't for that action. In the workplace, affirmative action has not achieved its goals even with more companies and industries now being interested in hiring women. For women in the workplace, the pace is slow but steady, there has been a problem in getting women interested into a workplace commonly dominated by men. Rayola Dougher, describes The oil business just 30 years ago was a lonely place for the few women who chose to work in it. (Brady, 2015). Even now a day's women are not interested because of reasons which may include taking care of children, not getting dirty, or just the wanting of another jobs. In an article by the NPR, An American Petroleum Institute study released last year showed women make up only 19 percent of the oil industry's workforce. That's compared to 47 percent in the overall U.S. workforce (Brady, 2015). There has been an increase in the petroleum business looking for women to fill their jobs but not enough women applicants. Women usually hold jobs in top 3 categories which include teaching, nursing, and retail in 2015 according to the United States Department of Labor in 2015. Also, for people of color it's been hard to find a good job. In an article by the Economist, data represents the many struggles that people of color face in the workforce, Racial diversity in the workplace " from recruiting to hiring to promoting people of color " continues to move at an unimpressive pace, In LinkedIn's annual report there was Among the company's 6,435 employees, 5 per cent are Latino, and 3 per cent are Black, representing only a 1 per cent increase over the previous year. (Williams, n.d). Wages are also not equal, Latinas earn 56 cents for every dollar white men earn and African-American men earn 75% of what white males earn. (25 Important Statistics on Affirmative Action in the Workplace, 2017). Affirmative action does not cover wages exclusively, but I believe that not only does affirmative action mean favoring those who are in a disadvantaged an opportunity to have a job and get into school, but it also means an opportunity to gain an equal wage if they are performing the same or better than the average person.In education, affirmative action has achieved its goals. There has been an increase in students with diversity being admitted into college however, the white race still holds a higher percentage enrolled in postsecondary institutions. " according to the National Center for Education Statistics, About 58 percent of them were white, about 15 percent were black and about 17 percent were Hispanic" (Glum, 2017). Women being admitted into college is also increasing and potent, "58 percent to 42 percent as recently as the 1970s”the ratio has now almost exactly reversed. This fall, women will comprise more than 56 percent of students on campuses nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Education" (Marcus, 2017). There has been a decrease in men enrolling into college as a result, many men are seeing college as unnecessary now and are looking for ways to make money faster such as by going to the oil rigs but it is not safe to say that all men who don't go to college are going to the oil rigs but they are now not finding enough reasons to attend college.Organizations should abandon affirmative action policies, this is reverse discrimination. Amends can't be made by discriminating other groups and responding by saying that is it the only way to fix gender and race issues. This is unfair to everyone, by promoting this policy people are promoting discrimination and racism. Schools and the workplace should not be accepting applicants based on how badly they were treated in the past. What this does to students is encourage them to do poorly because regardless, they will be accepted. It also opens doors to racism because whites will believe that those of color are always given a job only because of a policy and not qualifications. I do believe that affirmative actions have given people opportunities that they would have never gotten if it weren't for the policy, it just seems unfair that employers and schools are seeing gender and race as a prerequisite in attending college even by a small percentage. This policy has gotten out of hand, I believe this policy can't be taken into effect without stating how much weight those who are protected under this policy will have in college admissions or how much faster they will get a job. I believe that 100% of admissions should be based on academics, universities should eliminate the question to state their race and gender to fully accept those who deserve a chance. Regardless of past efforts people of color are still underrepresented in the workplace and in school, if people would believe in affirmative action there would be many chances in companies to progress and be in the top management. A reason that I think that many companies and schools only break the law sometimes by taking into effect race is so that the government can believe some companies are changing when only a small percentage is being changed. On one side affirmative action offers opportunities by allowing diversity in the workplace, but on the other side people are discriminated against by being in a workplace or in a school were affirmative action was used and their qualifications not considered. Diversity helps companies grow and allows for a company to reach a wider audience but if people are not qualified then they will never be given a chance to speak up within the company and prove how smart they can be. An employer who is against the policy will never see that employee as someone who is worthy. In an article by CNN it explains the many hardships this action has brought to people of color, A lot of black professionals don't like it either. Not because they think the playing field is necessarily leveled, but rather their skills and talents are constantly being slighted by whites who think their jobs were given to them solely because of their race (Granderson, 2012). The importance of this is that many people don't believe that people of color can get a job on their own, this makes it harder for them to fit in and not be discriminated in the workforce. Those covered under affirmative action are offered jobs but not given equal pay and the cycle will continue. Those who oppose this action will never believe that regardless of race, color, and gender everyone deserves an opportunity, they will only see it as a policy that must be obeyed. I believe that the negative weights more than the positive. Instead of affirmative action I believe the U.S should be gender neutral and offer equal opportunities for all. We are in a place in history were people are offended by many remarks and there are shootings that could have been stopped in the first place if cops and the general population wouldn't be racist. Racist and downgrading remarks shouldn't have to be tolerated by those with a disadvantage, instead they should be given jobs where they can grow and express their opinions. Not one person thinks alike, men and women both have completely different ideas but if they work together, they can make one even greater idea and increase employment and the economy. Organizations should abandon the affirmative action policy because it is not helping those who truly need it. Even now that affirmative action is being implemented in schools, students drop out or only few are admitted. In the workplace I believe affirmative action is not helping. Given the example I presented by LinkedIn, it is evident that not all companies are taking the policy seriously and not following it. In personnel hiring this policy should also be eliminated, I believe there must be an improved and more efficient way to hire not considering color, race, and sex. I am not am employer therefore I am not sure how much color, sex, race, and national origin weigh in an application, but I know that many employers could feel pressured to hire. Likewise, employers could feel pressured not to hire because of the negative effects it could cause such as racism within the company. The only way to save the policy would entail a complete list of laws that can and can't be done but as of right now affirmative action should be abandoned when it comes to hiring due to the negative effects that it causes for people who are already suffering from discrimination.

Updated: May 03, 2023
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Merriam-Webster Defines Affirmative Action as Action Taken for Inclusion. (2019, Aug 20). Retrieved from

Merriam-Webster Defines Affirmative Action as Action Taken for Inclusion essay
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