Equal Employment Opportunity, Affirmative Action

Equal Employment Opportunity, Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action

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This brief study examines the issue of the policies of Affirmative Action and the policies of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Findings in this brief study demonstrate that Affirmative Action policies are outdated and are in a need of review due to the unforeseen and reverse discrimination perpetrated by these policies which were intended to mitigate and eradicate discriminatory practices.



Human Resource Management’s role is critically important in terms of the equal opportunity for employment and specifically in regards to affirmative action in the hiring process as well as in other areas of relations with employees of the organization. Affirmative Action was very important and greatly needed at one time in history however, in today’s highly globalized and integrated society characterized by diversity Affirmative Action has become instead of that which bring about equity, that which brings about inequity among individuals in the organization through making the specialized provision of heightened opportunity for individuals who are of a minority racial and ethnic background.

Background and Significance

The work of Rogers (2008) published in an UWire Column entitled: “Affirmative action Policy is Outdated, Offensive notes the statement of Elliot Larsen concerning affirmative actions stating that it is “the attempt to deal with malignant racism by instituting benign racism.” (2008, p.1) Rogers states that in actuality affirmative action is a policy “that requires active measures to be taken to make certain that blacks and all minorities enjoy the same opportunities in all aspects of life a policy used mostly in employment and school admissions processes. But when race become the ultimatum in admissions decisions, everybody has a right and a need to question these policies.” (2008) p.1

While there are those who hold that this form of favoritism is “overdue compensation for years of slavery. But since when has liberty and justice for all meant repentance for our ancestors’ pasts?” (2008) p.1 Reverse discrimination is often scoffed at when mentioned however, there is just such a case worthy of note that was heard before the U.S. Supreme Court and was one involving the University of Michigan Law School who was tried for reverse discrimination relating to the school’s admissions policies and specifically the school was accused of granting admissions upon the basis of a point system and had granted admissions to the school for promotion of diversity and interracial relations and interactions. However, when the verdict was returned it effectively supported the factor of race as “a factor in admissions decisions.” (Rogers, 2008) p.1 Rogers asks the question of whether this “more fully integrated society” should be “more integrated on the basis of ideas and cultures rather than color? We need to reward hard work, discipline and achievement. We need to discontinue judging students because of their race rewarding some and punishing others.” (2008) p.1

The significance of this problem is the fact that there are very capable, properly educated and trained and even experienced individuals who are being passed over for employment in today’s market upon the basis of nothing other than their racial profile and while it may surprise the majority of people, that individual being discriminated against is the individual from the majority race because special opportunities are being specifically provided for those of minority races. Affirmative Action in today’s world is no longer necessary at least that is, not in its’ original form. Indeed this work intends to show just how outdated Affirmative Action has actually become and just how lacking in relevance to the workplace of contemporary organizations Affirmative Action really is.

Literature Review

The U.S. Department of Justice – Office of Justice Programs states that the Affirmative Employment Programs cover a wide spectrum of activities involving affirmative action planning for the recruitment, hiring, placement, training, and advancement of historically underrepresented and/or underutilized groups within the workforce. These activities focus on enhancing the representation of American Indians/Alaskan Natives, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders, African-Americans, persons with disabilities, females, and Vietnam-era veterans at all levels within the agency.” (U.S. Department of Justice – Office of Justice Programs, 2009) This is accomplished through four programs stated to be those as follows:

(1) Affirmative Employment Program (AEP) Plan for Minorities and Women. Annual report update prepared pursuant to Section 717 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and the EEOC’s Management Directive 707, as amended. Program objectives are to target occupations in the agency for affirmative action efforts; to monitor the hiring, advancement, and training of minority and female groups which are underrepresented in the targeted occupations; and to examine any barriers that may hinder recruitment, hiring, placement, and promotion of minorities and women;

(2) Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program (FEORP) Plan. Prepared annually and administered pursuant to Section 310 of the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) of 1978, and the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Personnel Manual, Chapter 720, which sets forth the objectives and initiatives the agency will undertake through affirmative recruitment to eliminate any under representation of minorities and females in the workforce;

(3) Affirmative Employment Program Plan for Hiring, Placement, and Advancement of Disabled Individuals. Prepared annually in accordance with Section 501 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. § 791); Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1978; Executive Order 11478 (34 F.R. 12985, August 10, 1969), as amended by Executive Order 12106 (44 F.R. 1053, December 30, 1978); and EEOC’s Management Directive 711. Federal agencies must ensure that qualified disabled individuals have equal opportunity to be hired, placed, and advanced in Federal jobs. Affirmative employment must be an integral part of ongoing agency personnel management programs. Agencies should employ persons with disabilities in a broad range of grade levels and occupational series, and agency policies should not unnecessarily exclude or limit persons with disabilities though job structure, design, architectural, transportation, communication, procedural, or attitudinal barriers; and (4) Affirmative Action Program Plan for the Recruitment and Hiring of Disabled Veterans. Prepared annually by the agency pursuant to Section 403 of the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended (38 U.S.C. § 4214) and 5 CFR Part 720, Subpart C. It sets out the agency’s objectives to ensure equal employment opportunity for all disabled veterans, especially those who are 30% or more disabled. (U.S. Department of Justice – Office of Justice Programs, 2009)

The work of Holmberg (2008) Affirmative Action as Outdated as Discrimination” states that universities in the United States are operating under policies that disguise as affirmative action but in reality result in an increase in abrasive racial encounters and heightening “racial tension…”(p.1) Holmberg states that Administrative Action was

“…originally intended to level the playing field, affirmative action has become a constantly misused practice. On Eastern New Mexico University’s campus, a student was recently denied the opportunity to even apply for a job because of his race. Kevin Mulloy, a white student, attempted to apply for a job with African-American Affairs on campus, but says he was turned down before he ever received an application because he admitted to having no African-American heritage. The job was actually posted on ENMU’s Web site and stated, in no uncertain terms, that to qualify for the job applicants needed only to have work-study and be African-American.” (2008) p.1

The work of Burke and Cooper (2005) entitled: “Reinventing Human Resource Management: Challenges and New Directions” states that diversity management is “necessarily inclusive, and requires efforts across HRM responsibilities and in all aspects of organizational functioning.” (Burke and Cooper, 2005) the conceptualization of diversity management as a comprehensive set of processes is now recognized.” (Burke and Cooper, 2005) While the AA and EEO programs were attempts to increase the presence of “underrepresented groups…unfortunately many of these practices were symbolic or found to be illegal or improperly implemented.” (Burke and Cooper, 2005) While these programs did positively effect the “presence and pay of underrepresented groups…Roosevelt Thomas (1990) argued that affirmative action as an independent approach to workforce diversity was limited and outdated.” (Burke and Cooper, 2005)

It is the view of Thomas that the changes to the “landscape [were of the nature] that the realities facing us are no longer the realities affirmative action was designed to fix.” (Thomas, 1990, p. 107 in Burke and Cooper, 2005) While the emergence of diversity management was perceived by some to be merely a fad it is related in the work of Ivancevich and Gilbert (2000) that it clearly was not only a fad but in fact “diversity management has swelled to a $300 billion a year industry.” (Burke and Cooper, 2005)

The work of Kepple (1995) entitled: “The Fallacy of Affirmative Action” states that the time has come “to end affirmative action. The time has simply come to end the existence of a program that began with the best intentions but now appears more paradoxical to the concept of America as a melting pot: a multicultural society in which we have to quote “equality for all, and preference for none.” (Kepple, 1995) Kepple questions if affirmative action is “really doing this” and states “the answer is no.” (Kepple, 1995) Kepple states that affirmative action makes the assumption that ‘Everything can be solved by lumping whites, and men in particular, all of whom have supposedly achieved some kind of tangible advantage and benefits from the color of their skin alone, into one group. Non-whites, all of whom are assumed to be the victims of the aforementioned group because the white males were obviously all attempting to hinder the non-whites in various ways constitute the second group.” (Kepple, 1995)

The work of Dean Elmuti (1996) entitled: “Revising Affirmative Action and Managing Cultural Diversity Challenges in Corporate America” states that management of cultural diversity in the workplace in combination with “attempt to abolish affirmative action are emerging as some of the most important issues facing American business in the 90s. Affirmative action was born during the Civil Rights Movement in an effort to reverse the effects of generations of racial discrimination (the concepts and the laws which governed it broadened over the years to include women and other traditionally disadvantaged groups). It is federally mandated law to combat discrimination. Diversity on the other hand, is an organizational effort that aims to modify organization standards, procedures, and management practices that hinder creativity, productivity, and advancement of employees.” (Elmuti, 1996)

The work of W. Ralph Eubanks (2009) published in the American Scholar states that the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. demonstrate that while King “embraced affirmative action” that King also believed that affirmative action “should help economically disadvantaged people of both races. He proposed a Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged, not a Bill of Rights for Blacks, noting that ‘while Negroes form the vast majority of America’s disadvantaged there are millions of white poor who would also benefit from such a bill.” (Eubanks, 2009) p.1

Eubanks notes that conservatives point to the famous assertion of King that “people should be judged by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin as evidence that he would have been against affirmative action.” (2009) Eubanks notes the work of Rustin whose personal papers are housed by the Library of Congress. Rustin is stated to have written for the Baltimore Sun and questioned “how the cultural and political change brought about by the movement [Civil Rights] might evolve, specifically stating ‘As in any period of significant change, the potentials of the new situation cannot be realized until we are liberated from the modes of thought and action of the past. The strategies of the civil rights period were once appropriate but when outdated they become roadblocks to future progress.'” (Eubanks, 2009) it is the belief of Eubanks that affirmative action should be “retooled…to providing a path for people of all races into the middle class.” (Eubanks, 2009)

The work of Gutman (2000) entitled: “EEO Law and Personnel Practices” states the following overview of outdated practices of affirmative action:

State Protection Laws — state protection laws prohibiting women from danger (e.g., heavy lifting) are unconstitutional;

Height/weight requirements — Excluding on height/weight criteria is as difficult to defend as excluding all members of one gender;

Pregnancy discrimination — Discrimination in medical benefits for pregnancy outlawed in Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978;

Retirement benefits — women may not be forced to pay more or receive less because they are expected to live longer;

Sex-Plus Discrimination — Exclusion based on motherhood is facially discriminatory if parallel exclusions do not apply to fatherhood;

Fetal protection — prohibiting fertile women from jobs based on fetal safety does not satisfy BPQQ defense. (Gutman, 2000)

Discussion, Implications and Recommendations

Affirmative action is stated to have been developed in 1961 (Holmberg, 2008) and it is acknowledged that during that time in recent U.S. history that racism was an issue that required addressing. In fact, there are still vestiges of racism that are still strongly shadowing society although unacknowledged and even ignored this racism whispers from the corridors of history a little too loudly. However, Affirmative Action has been used miserably in unconscionable ways and toward questionable ends. Affirmative Action has served to perpetrate a most aggressive form of discrimination. This new racism is one that seeks to inflict discrimination as retribution upon a majority racial class for the sins of their ancestors.

The ideal that gave birth to the foundation of Affirmative Action is that all men, regardless of race, religion, creed, ethnicity, gender, and so forth should be on the receiving end of discrimination in societal institutions, organizations, memberships or citizenships. It is not that Affirmative Action was not needed for, at the time it was needed and it is not that it is today a bad idea but instead it is the idea that the past generations status quo should move forward and effectively grant entitlement or retribution to a people upon the basis of race. If true justice and equity are to exist in society there must be a balance with no racial grouping pushing too hard to enforce their receipt of justice based on entitlement and simultaneously committing discrimination against the racial grouping assigned to pay for the sins long past committed by ancestors or simply others of the same racial profile. The time for all this has come and gone and required is cognition within and without, in practice, thought, and deed, and evidence by human resource practices that absolutely is defined by choosing the best possible candidate to fill the positions of employment in the organization regardless of race, ethnic origin, gender, or other personally defining characteristics.

Recommendations for Future Research

Recommendations for research arising from this brief study include the recommendation that research should be applied to the area of affirmative action and to the optimal refining and retooling of the principles and guidance of laws, regulations and principles of Affirmative Action and EEO policies.


Rogers, Eloise (2008) Column: Affirmative Action Policy is Outdated, Offensive. Campus Times in: UWIRE, CBS News 20 Nov 2008. Online available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/21/politics/uwire/main4622919.shtml

Holmberg, Kelley (2008) Affirmative Action as Outdated as Discrimination. The Chase — College Media Network. 27 Feb 2008. Online available at: http://media.www.enmuthechase.com/media/storage/paper1015/news/2008/02/27/Opinion/Affirmative.Action.As.Outdated.As.Discrimination-3238855.shtml#4

Burke, Ronald J. And Cooper, Cary L. (2005) Reinventing Human Resource Management: Challenges and New Directions. Routledge 2005.

Kepple, Benjamin (1995) the Fallacy of Affirmative Action.15 Nov 1995. Online available at: http://www.umich.edu/~mrev/archives/1995/11-15-95/affirm.html

Elmuti, Dean (1996) Revising Affirmative Action and Managing Cultural Diversity Challenge in Corporate America. Equal Opportunities International 1996, Vol. 15, Issue 6/7.

Eubanks, W. Ralph (2009) Affirmative Action and After. Winter 2009. The American Scholar.

Gutman, Arthur (2000) EEO Law and Personnel Practices. Management Studies. 2000 SAGE.

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