The Significance of Affirmative Action in Diversity Management

The Significance of Affirmative Action in Diversity Management



The Significance of Affirmative Action in Diversity Management

In overview, most organizations have resorted to the inclusion of diversity within the workplace based on the implications it imposes on important aspects such as discrimination, productivity and employee relations. Accordingly, this particular aspect constitutes a significant part of contemporary human resource management due to the effects it imposes in any firm’s internal environment. Aside from the other pertinent issues covered within the respective diversity management manual, affirmative action still remains as an imperative facet of management. In this respect, the impact that such an element may pose on the organization sets it apart from other features established already in the management of diversity. Generally, affirmative action comprises one of the most controversial issues in today’s workplace. Its objective as well as the subsequent discriminatory outcome of its implementation has instituted it as a major concern in the modern organization.

A general description of affirmative action involves the provision of special amenities or prospects for a specific disadvantaged group or favoring the occupants of a highly discriminated cohort. In the United States, affirmative action comprises measures that employers are required to observe and implement in reference to fair opportunity employment (Connors, 2009). The purpose of this policy is to negate discrimination and prejudicial inclinations against workers or applicants for employment on basis of a variety of distinct elements such as gender, nationality, religion or race. The influence of affirmative action has tricked further down in the workplace because of the protection it advocates towards minorities. Based on this, human resource management has engaged in a myriad of projects directed at supporting affirmative action within the organization. Such programs comprise specialized recruitment, outreach operations, employee facilitation schemes and employee growth and development.

The initial intention of the affirmative action legislation, apart from circumventing discrimination, was to rectify the disadvantages related to explicit favoritism and inequity. Consequently, the regulation was designed to eradicate illegal discrimination among applicants, resolve the outcome of past discriminatory practices and prevent such an issue from taking place in future (Connors, 2009). In addition to its application in organizational policy, the particular legislation focused on ensuring that public organizations such as hospitals, universities and police services provided equal and fair services to the populations they represent. Furthermore, under the direction of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and former President John F. Kennedy, affirmative action was established in order to ensure that both employers and government contractors engage in the fair employment of applicants irrespective of their creed, color, sex or national origin (Connors, 2009).

The Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) is an illustration of the application and operation of affirmative action in America. The respective case takes imperative factors such as race and color, which were the prime determinants used by the Medical School of the University of California in evaluating students within the Special Admissions Program. However, one of the respondents, even after satisfying the grade required to enter the University in relation to this particular scheme, was rejected from the school (Rankin, 2001). Based on this, the California Supreme Court ruled that the respective program was majorly intrusive especially in accomplishing the aims of incorporating the medical profession and boosting the number of physicians inclined to offer their services to minority patients. Furthermore, the court asserted that the applicant’s Special Admissions Program was invalid.

In order to arrive at the conclusion, the California Supreme Court utilized various legal mechanisms. Foremost, the Program breached the Equal Protection Clause (Rankin, 2001). The section, as a constituent of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, restricts states from denying equal rights to individuals irrespective of their natural or structural predispositions. Regarding the case, the scheme employed by the University functioned as an ethnic quota. Adding on, the verdict considered Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which limits the discrimination of individuals in relation to color, nationality or race while participating in schemes or activities funded by the Federal Government. Therefore, the particular program violated these legal statutes. Lastly, the program, in attempting to establish a diverse population within the medical profession, violated the respective clause since it considered race as a viable element in the admission of students (University of California Regents v. Bakke, 1978). 

Indeed, affirmative action legislation enforces various benefits to both organizations and employees. Firstly, the policy averts the consistency of conflict in the workplace. Organizations that support the incorporation of diversity have managed to ensure positive relations among workers. By enabling affirmative actions, employers have become capable of offering equal employment prospects to various persons. Moreover, the application of affirmative action has succeeded in limiting discrimination by enabling people especially within the minority groups, to access services and facilities that other people are capable of obtaining and utilizing. The downside of the legislation is that it undermines the accomplishments of minorities by providing opportunities freely. This is because it encourages the selection of individuals based on their social groupings rather than formidable characteristics such as merit and credentials.

To this end, affirmative action is rather inappropriate as legislation. Even though it has exerted considerable assistance especially in ensuring the representation of minorities in organizations, it is not necessarily imperative. The reason for this is due to the existence of stronger regulations that support the negation of discrimination. Accordingly, the United States Constitution comprises a myriad of acts and statutes aimed at restricting prejudice. Legal provisions such as the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment provide strict laws that enable applicants to enroll and gain employment in organizations. Furthermore, the establishment of organs such as Equal Employment Opportunity Commission relinquishes the significance of affirmative action due to their focus on remedying the effects of discrimination in the workplace and the encompassing society.


Connors, P. G. (2009). Affirmative action. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press.

Rankin, E. (2001, March 19). The Bakke case [Review of the Bakke case: Race, education, and affirmative action]. Retrieved from

University of California Regents v. Bakke 438 U.S. 265. (1978). Retrieved from

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