Ever heard of 'Positive Discrimination' or 'Affirmative Action'? Well, I've just found out that it's no myth!
The term was coined by President JFK in America. The basic idea was that certain groups in society - in this case African Americans - had suffered such massive historical disadvantages and discrimination based on race, that they did not realistically have the same opportunity to succeed as everyone else. So therefore active steps needed to be taken to ensure that such minority groups were represented and hired in organizations, government and businesses. It's led to the adoption of hiring quotas (in some countries) in which a certain number must come from previously under-represented groups.
It covers a lot of areas from employment decisions, admission to educational institutions and even public health to name but a few.
The claim is that 'reverse discrimination' - at least for a period of time - is the only way to restore complete equality in the long term. But is this the case?
On the surface it sounds simple, but in reality it actually means that if there is a lack of black people, for example, in a workplace, then in the event of 2 equally qualified people going for the same job, one black and one white, the employer opts to give the post to the black person from the underrepresented group in order to correct the balance.
No wonder many countries refuse it, as it seems tantamount to unequal treatment to many. They simply choose to treat all people the same.
How can people be preferred purely on ethnicity or origin? Doesn't this actually devalue the person's real accomplishments? I mean, isn't it a bit patronising? This policy could actually end up damaging the people it seeks to help because others will assume 'she only got the job because she was black or a woman etc, not because she was the strongest candidate'.
It also keeps people constantly aware of the barriers that divide us, creating more resentment between different groups, increasing rather than reducing racial tension.
Perhaps you only agree with it when it is focused on one particular area and not another. For example - you may agree that more women should be seen in top positions, but not necessarily more disabled or ethnic minorities?
So I ask:
- Is Positive Discrimination a good or bad thing?
- Should employers in a multicultural society be forced to have a balance of different ethnicity or equal numbers of men and women in the workplace?
- Have you ever been chosen over someone else based on your race, culture, ethnicity or sex?
I'd love you to share your comments, views and opinions.