Affirmative Action may be one of the most controversial policies of recent history. Affirmative Action is considered any measure used to correct for past or present discrimination or to prevent discrimination from happening. Affirmative Action programs in organizations include many different actions that are shaped by federal, state, and local laws and regulations. 20-25% of the nation’s labor force is affected by the laws of affirmative action.
The issue of fairness or the lack thereof comes up frequently when addressing affirmative action. Unfortunately, America does not have the best track record in regards to achieving fairness for all individuals, regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. Affirmative action means different things to different people. For example, a study done in Chicago showed that 40% of those sampled thought affirmative action was a quota system, while 48% defined affirmative action as a monitoring system. The first group had a negative perception of affirmative action while the second was for it (Golden 2001).
In organizations, affirmative action is defined based on an Executive Order by Lyndon Johnson in 1965. The executive order requires all federal contractors above a certain size to use affirmative action programs. All organizations who conduct more than $50,000 worth of business with the federal government and those who employ more than 50 people are required to use affirmative action plans.
Affirmative action protects along two categories: gender and ethnicity. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs helps organizations the first time they create an affirmative action plan.
From the outside, it seems that affirmative action costs much more than equal opportunity. Ironically, affirmative action receives more criticism than it gives equal opportunity.
Psychologists are responsible for finding one of the main reasons for the implementation of Affirmative Action. "The denial of personal discrimination,” when a person believes that they are somehow excluded from the discriminatory practices that affects others in the same group as them, was first realized by psychologists in 1982. Research shows that people within disadvantaged groups may minimize discrimination but do not deny it (D.M. Taylor 1996). People who have spent years with a “denial of personal discrimination” mindset who realize that they have in fact been disadvantaged become extremely angry. For example, a black woman who has spent years denying her gender and racial-based disadvantage would likely become extremely upset when she experiences the epiphany of her discrimination. Employees experiencing anger is very damaging to organizations. Companies operate best when things run smoothly routinely. When an angry employee sues, the organization will likely lose money (Bergmann 1996). One discrimination trial can cost an organization up to a million dollars. Per Barbara Bergmann, the Equal Employment Opportun...