Level the Playing Field

Leveling The Playing Field

HRM340 Human Resource Management

Perhaps no issue has generated as much controversy in the workplace as affirmative action. Affirmative action is a policy that is designed to favor members of a disadvantaged group who are perceived to suffer from discrimination within a culture. The purpose behind this policy was to provide defined minority groups the same equalities to that of those that were privileged with efforts focused on trying to improve opportunities for historically excluded groups in American society. Over the course of time affirmative action has continued to change as the people have change.

To understand affirmative action one would have to understand the history behind it. The first ideas for affirmative action came from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and the Great Depression (Anderson, 2005). During this time the country was in an uproar with the presence of segregation and discrimination which these very facts sparked the conversation of what had to be done. This brought along the ideas of equality within employment. It wasn’t until 1941 when President Roosevelt made it his mission to end segregation by signing Executive Order 10925 which basically stated that there will be no more discrimination because of race, color or origin. As time progressed on more Executive Orders were signed along with The Civil Rights Act of 1964 basically banning discrimination within small businesses which laid the foundation for the continuance of affirmative action. As the years go on and the push for affirmative action continue to take shape the meaning of the term changed. President Carter defined it as goals and timetables for government contractors, set-asides for minority owned companies and special consideration in admission to university program (Anderson, 2005). President Clinton came into office and tried to diversify the term. Once his term was up and President Bush was in office affirmative action was no longer a topic of discussion until the Gratz and Gutter case of 2003 went to court which helped to reinvigorate the public’s interest in the term. Once this happened this is where you saw the true meaning behind affirmative action take form.

Fast forward to present day and affirmative action today is meant to stop discrimination against women and minorities in the workforce. Affirmative action places a focus on taking steps to place individuals into the organization and create a more diverse work environment. With this shift in its focus a more robust work environment is created that enables organizations to hire more employees that are multi-cultural and better equipped to serve in multicultural communities. Following affirmative action policies has afforded organizations the opportunity to commit to equality and justice which in turn would attract potential employees of the same mind set. Ultimately fostering an environment that is conducive for all and ensuring that the opportunities that are presented to one are presented to all. In the past there was a stigma that women could not operate in ground combat opportunities within our armed forces because of gender restraints. As of recent and due to the continuous push of affirmative action these opportunities have now opened up to women and they have proven that through the appropriate guidance and when given opportunity that they can thrive in an environment that used to be predominately for men. Another proving factor that affirmative action is consistent and continues to provide robust workforce dates back to 2003 when the court heard the case involving admissions to an undergraduate program at Michigan. At this hearing companies such as Intel, Coca-Cola and Boeing stressed the importance of this subject to their success in the global market.

In what seems to be an unfair environment having a focus placed on affirmative action has leveled the playing field for all. It has ensured that those who have the potential or the qualifications to do the job are afforded the opportunities that they deserve without any bias. This unbiased approach to employment and education has shown that regardless of race, color or creed that we are moving in the right direction as a society. Affirmative action will continue to be needed as long as continue to have a diverse workforce.


Affirmative Action in the Workplace: Forty Years Later. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://scholarlycommons.law.hofstra.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1029&context=hlelj

From Affirmative Action to Diversity: Toward a Critical Diversity Perspective. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0896920511402701?journalCode=crsb

Anderson, T. H. (2005) The Strange Career of Affirmative Action. Baltimore, MD; The John Hopkins University Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/40039874.pdf