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This essay seeks to establish the abolition of affirmative action for women in employment.

Affirmative action is a process in which selection of minority members of a profession are

actively selected to join the profession and/or join executive positions. This process is
fundamentally disservicing the profession as the minimal benefits that such a process may
provide is outweighed by the fact that those who are deserving of the position based upon
merit are simply overlooked. Furthermore, affirmative action is a flawed process as the
measures of success are based upon fallacious reasoning of confusion of correlation;
additionally the separation of men and women in todays society is not as drastic as to
warrant such intervention in employment determination. On the other hand, the active process
to hire women in a male dominated profession may provide diversity of sexes, it does not
inherently provide a diversity of perspective.

Meritocracy and affirmative action are constant conflicting ideologies in workplace

employment. Affirmative action seeks diversity and often reparations for past transgressions
such as discrimination1. Conversely, meritocracy in terms of the workplace setting seeks to
simply select the most deserving for employment. To assume that workplaces that do not
undertake affirmative action must undertake meritocracy is a false dilemma. However,
employment practice is still dominated by very subjective and often heavy unconscious bias2
as there is often no regulator to mitigate the bias. Fundamentally, if meritocracy was
implemented in its pure form, meaning that merely hiring based upon ability and suitability
will often provide the most equitable outcome.

1 Eugene Schlossberger,
2 Australian Public Service Commission, Unconscious Bias, APS Human Capital
Matters, Issue Paper 6 (2012) July, 3-8.

Meritocracy and affirmative action do not have mutually exclusive outcomes. Both processes
can achieve equality, if meritocracy is implemented, then issue of gender should not be an
issue beyond that of diversification. Thereby, if the intelligence of men and women are equal,
equality will be achieved by virtue of meritocracy as both genders are of equal merit. If the
strict legislation and regulation3 that regulates affirmative action is placed upon meritocratic
initiatives then the strength and fundamental value of such employment practices would lead
to diversity. While affirmative action will artificially try to achieve equality, merit will
observe merely qualifications and experience, gender will not be a factor. Affirmative action
pushes gender to the forefront of the hiring decisions. As asserted in the Stanford
Encyclopaedia of philosophy whereby The aims of real world affirmative action make race
and ethnicity (and sometimes gender) salient, not personal desert or merit.4 Suggesting that
what affirmative action hopes to eradicate which is discrimination ultimately may just cause
discrimination. This leads to the fact that affirmative action is a flawed process and must be
phased out of law.

Discriminating to end discrimination is Affirmative action. Exemplified in the United States

Supreme Court case which identified that [w]hat is required by Congress is the removal of
artificial, arbitrary, and unnecessary barriers to employment when the barriers operate
invidiously to discriminate on the basis of racial or other impermissible classification.5
Essentially trying to mitigate the discriminatory effects that are integrally within affirmative
3Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act 1986
4 Robert Fullinwider, Affirmative Action (17 September 2013) Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/affirmativeaction/>
5 Griggs v. Duke Power Company, 401 U.S. 424 (1971), at 430, 431

action. Beyond the discriminatory affect of Affirmative action, the measurements to

determine if affirmative action plans are effective are inherently flawed.
When determining the rationale behind affirmative action it is often vague such as attempting
to repair past discriminatory acts or attempting to reach employment quotas.6 The former is
incredibly difficult to determine, if at all able to be determined and the latter is so simplistic
that companies will simply resort to token minority groups. In addition, affirmative action
plans may as asserted in an Australian Journal of Labour Economics be expected to be more
successful in a booming economy with a tight labour market than in a recessionary
economy.7 This is clearly confusion of correlation, whereby during booming economies
companies are far more willing to adopt diplomatic initiatives such as affirmative action and
will do well because of the booming economy, while the exact opposite will occur in
recessionary economies. Suggesting that the reporting of the effectiveness of affirmative
action will be biased and skewed. Reporting the effectiveness of affirmative action is rather
peculiar, as it touts the incomplete success of affirmative actions programs.8 Essentially the
program cannot be a complete success, as it has not reached complete diversification across
minorities. Yet affirmative action has shown some positive effect, which may be entirely
owed to decline in racialization and inequality. This indicates the inaccuracy of the term
affirmative action becoming synonymous with the term diversity initiative. In a recent study
diversity initiative was the preferred term and was more effective in reducing workplace

6 Anne Daly et al, A Case Study of Affirmative Action Australian-style for

Indigenous People (2013) 16(2) Australian Journal of Labour Economics 277, 291
7 Ibid, 291

8 Michaeline A Crichlow and Edmund Terence Gomez Revisiting affirmative

action, globallyCultural Dynamics March 2015 27(1) 3, 15

bias,9 but it is wrong to propose that affirmative action procures the same rewards of

There are two points to the diversification argument for affirmative action, how it creates
diversity, and what type of diversity it creates. Firstly, Affirmative action can create diversity
of genders in the workplace, as women enter more male dominated fields as evidenced by a
U.S. Census whereby the difference from 1970 to 2006-10 showed more representation in
professional fields of work.10 Interestingly there appears to be a lot of reports and articles
geared towards women entering executive and managerial roles, while no emphasis placed on
manual or trade work. If affirmative action intended to achieve the goal of diversity in the
workplace, it should be placed on all workplaces not those with just higher paying and
physically less intensive employment.
Nevertheless diversity is created in certain industries, however does diversity of gender
actually provide any benefit? Fundamentally diversity should yield benefits by providing new
perspectives, knowledge, and skills resulting in greater creativity and problem-solving
capacity.11 Additionally, ancillary effects such as relief from discrimination, harassment12 and
improved mental and physical health13 subsequently job satisfaction is experienced. A
dissenting argument for the effect gender diversity is that assuming the minority gender is
9 Leanne S. Son Hing et al. The Merit of Meritocracy (2011) 101(3) Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology 433, 444

10United States Census, Americas Changing Labor Force United States Census
Bureau <http://www.census.gov/how/pdf/EEO_infographic.pdf> Refer to
appendix 1

11 Taylor Cox and Stacy Blake, Managing cultural diversity: Implications for
organizational competitiveness (1991) Academy of Management Executive, 5(3),

taught in a similar method for example an undergraduate course, and they have essentially
have come from the same socio-economic background the diversity of skills and knowledge
will not be so grand to warrant affirmative action. This has been highlighted in a report,14
whereby it was found that there was negative correlation between gender diversity and group
performance. Further a study which seeked to prove that affirmative action created economic
efficiency through diversity concluded, there does not exist a strong basis for regarding
affirmative action as more or less efficient than meritocratic admissions.15 Suggesting that
diversity of genders do not actually reap the benefits of diversity, as there is no real diversity,
and that a comparatively simpler merit based process of selection is superior.

Affirmative action places in the highest regard gender. Affirmative action disregards the
knowledge and skill of potential employees which inturn ignores the benefits of meritocracy,
which, fundamentally employment must be based upon for equality to function.
Consequently, affirmative action is a flawed process, which is furthered by the measurements
chosen to determine successful programs, which are either too simplistic or simply have no
basis in quantitative reasoning. Thereby, if affirmative action seeks to establish a diversified,
12 Michalle Mor Barak and Amy Levin Outside the corporate mainstream and
excluded from the work community: A study of diversity, job satisfaction, and
well-being (2002) Community, Work & Family 5(2), 13357.
13 Lynda Sagrestano, Health implication of workplace diversity. In Margaret
Stockdale and Faye Crosby, The psychology and management of workplace
diversity (Malden: MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2004)12243
14 Pelled, L. H., Eisenhardt, K. M., & Xin, K. R. (1999). Exploring the black box: An
analysis of work group diversity, conflict, and performance. Administrative
Science Quarterly, 44(1), 1, 15. Refer to appendix 2
15 Steven N. Durlauf Affirmative action, meritocracy , and efficiency [2008]
(May) 7(2) Politics Philosophy Economics 131, 153

egalitarian employment system it must be successful in achieving diversity and equality.

When affirmative action initiatives simply provide for gender diversification no benefits of
such diversification are reaped and better initiatives such as those based upon merit achieve
equality. Therefore, Affirmative action for women in employment is an initiative that must be

Appendix 1

Appendix 2



For example, they [Affirmative Action plans] might be expected to be more successful in a
booming economy with a tight labour market than in a recessionary economy.16



16 Anne Daly et al, A Case Study of Affirmative Action Australian-style for

Indigenous People (2013) 16(2) Australian Journal of Labour Economics 277, 291
17 Rational1, Ofcourseitisafraud.Itmayhavestartedoutlegitimately,butisnothingbutan
extortionracketnow. On Adam 2 Is affirmative action a fraud?

Paragraph Diagram

Argument 1
Argument 2
Counter Argument
Rebut to Counter

Anybias will be
quashed bysimilar
implementa on of
legisla on that heavily
regulates affirma ve
ac on

When merit isthe

exclusive measure of
suitabilitythe right
posi on is chosen

Effec venessof the

employment quotashavinga
posi ve affect on afirmis
skewed based on the health of
the economy, where in boom
periods affirma ve ac on
plansare adopted and will do
well because of the economy
not the new employment
ini a ve

Measurement of equality/
diversityis based on
employment quotas

Merit does not consider

gender, while
affirma ve ac on makes
gender an issue

Meritocracy: A fundamental ideologyused to

select employees based upon merit

There is no diversifica on
of skillsand knowledge
between sexes when
there is the same
educa on and up

There are other factors which

enter into equalitysuch as
changingperspec ve over
me such asthe decline in
racializa on and genderiza on

The measurement of
effec venessis based on
equalityand diversity

Where the ini a ve of

affirma ve ac on occur is
selec ve in industries
which are higher paying
and physicallyless

With diversityif
gender new
perspec ve,
knowledge and
skills are brought
to the firm

Woman enter into

male dominated

Affirma ve Ac on is

The Abolishment of Affirma ve Ac on for Women in