A policy that aims to increase opportunities in the education sector and the workplace for underrepresented groups. These groups suffer alienation or under-representation due to any or all factors, including race, ethnicity, gender, or religion.
How Affirmative Action Works
Affirmative action tries to rectify what discrimination throughout history has done. Gender biases, race and ethnicity discrimination are just the tip of the iceberg that affirmative action policies seek to rectify. Affirmative action works to undo all these wrongs by implementing various policies at workplaces.
Affirmative action policies in the workplace provide the necessary help to groups that have suffered discrimination currently or in the past. To achieve this, these are some of the policies that affirmative action implements:
- Hiring: Requires that a certain quota of inclusivity is achieved during hiring. This means that candidates interviewed for a position should come from a wide range of cultures, ethnicities, and genders.
- Education: Provision of education scholarships or grants are awarded to specific groups of people. This will help create a level playing field in the job market for marginalized groups.
- Funding Control: The government can deny an organization funding or certain privileges to ensure that all organizations meet requisite inclusivity criteria in their practices both internally and externally.
Once implemented in the workplace, the affirmative action policies benefits:
- Better job and education opportunities for minorities and marginalized groups.
- Increased income for families from minority groups.
- A level playing field in the job market for marginalized or minority groups.
Real-World Example of Affirmative Action
Affirmative action policies are implemented in workplaces as well as in institutions of learning. One of the most notable examples of affirmative action in education happened in Brazil. According to a report carried out by ScienceDirect, affirmative action led to increased enrollment of black students in the university.
Before the government of Brazil making this decision, many black and mixed-race students did not do well enough to secure a position in colleges and universities. Most of these students from these marginalized groups had little chance of making it to university.
This was because they could not afford to attend private schools, making their chances of enrolling for higher education slim. However, once the government put affirmative action policies in place, the enrollment of these students increased. This deemed the affirmative action move by the government to be successful.
Significance of Affirmative Action
Affirmative action is often referred to as leveling the playing field. This means making the rules fair to everyone in the 'game' or at the workplace in this case. It implies removing obstacles that had earlier been in the way.
The importance of affirmative action is to provide equal opportunities to all. In the workplace, gender, race, ethnicity, and religion should never be a stumbling block to progress or growth. In the same vein, these factors should also not be a hindrance to anyone accessing education.
Equal Opportunity vs. Affirmative Action
Equal opportunity is a term that is used interchangeably with affirmative action, but this is erroneous. Equal opportunity aims to provide a level playing field for everyone in the workplace and education sector. It does not consider past injustices to people who have lost or been deprived of opportunity because of their race, gender, or ethnicity.
On the other hand, affirmative action aims to provide a level playing field for groups that have suffered historical discrimination. Affirmative action differs from equal opportunity in this one way only. It strives to right historical injustices.