Affirmative action refers to policies of both socio political and non dominant groups such as the minority men or women of any racial grouping. The policies are essential in promoting education and employment opportunities irrespective of a person’s demographic opportunity such as race, age. The main idea brought about by affirmative action is discrimination which is considered unfair act in most institutions.

Several programs have been implemented to enhance affirmative action. In the employment sector for example, recruitment programs have been introduced to ensure only those who are really qualified by merit get the position.

Though there are several arguments against affirmative action especially those related to collectivism and degrees of discrimination such as entry to higher education and when people belong to a specific social group. Its advantages are still clearly outlined.

Impact of affirmative action

 Affirmative action has been essential in pushing beyond the initial bias suspicions. This is mostly noticed in position in the job market where by one may in doubt if a specific person qualifies to be in a certain job position.

Affirmative action has been quite helpful in solving this problem since those considered minorities for their race and age are given a chance to occupy a certain position if they qualify by merit and experience.

Affirmative action is quite essential in ensuring that people are aware of their rights in education and employment. In the employment sector a person is aware that he can apply for any position irrespective of their race.

According to Collin Powell, increase in employment levels in a country assist in reduction of poverty. Therefore, by increasing employment opportunities to the public it will be beneficial in increasing gross domestic product of a country.

On the other hand, affirmative action is essential in education sector since it increases the level of literacy in a country. People find it important to attend schools which are provided by the government because enrollment is not based on race and age which may consider them minorities.

Limitations of affirmative action

Irrespective of affirmative action having several positive aspects it also has several limitations associated with unemployment and education sector. The most notable aspects that have proven that affirmative action has not fully been useful in attaining its objectives are stigma of the blue collar, evidence of preference, evidence of discrimination and invisible privileges.

One of the main objectives of affirmative action was to minimize discrimination in employment but this has not actually been achieved since unequal employment is still noted in most industries. Research carried out in 1984, showed that most of the unemployed cases are those involving African-Americans as compared to whites.

Affirmative action has not achieved its role in ensuring that all persons perform to their full potential. By declaring a person as a minority it may make them demoralized and less motivated. As an example, Jane Elliot carried out an experiment involving students with different economic backgrounds.

The results showed that students with a higher background were neater, smart and open minded as compared to students of low background. This analysis made the students who were considered minority less confident and not able to express their full potential.

Evidence of preference brought about by affirmative action suggested that blacks who were considered minorities could not occupy senior positions such as surgeons and firefighters.

Clearly this is under utilization of minorities who also have high education standards. Evidence of preference is also noted in assigning duties to employees, minor employees are given roles or projects which have very little compensation while the other employees such as whites are given bonuses and white collar duties.

I n addition, affirmative action is considered inefficient since aspects of invisible privileges are highly noted. In the job market for example employees who feel are more superior than others especially if recruitment was based on social and economic levels do not adhere to the set rules and regulations in the organization.

An employee may not mind getting late to a meeting since it is a reflection of his race or he can avoid spending time with fellow employees who he had been trained to mistrust.

Though affirmative actions seems to have tackled several issues relating to minority discrimination, preference and class divisions, it does not really answer the following questions

Ø  Who exactly are minorities?

Ø  Which sectors can affirmative action are excluded?

Ø  How are career plans created?


Hurst, C. Social Inequality Forms, Causes, and Consequences. Sixth Edition. 2007. 374-377. Belbin. M. (1981). Management Teams. London; Heinemann Hardin, Russell (1982). Collective Action John Hopkins University Press Baltimore. ISBN 0-8018-2818-8