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In Favor or Affirmative Action

Updated on February 22, 2012
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Introduction

In this growing marketplace, it is imperative that any company address and rigorously pursue all opportunities for profit and growth. This includes the company expanding its customer base by as much as possible. Amid these dark financial times, the company must be able to hold on to a varied customer base as well as increase their capabilities all around. One of the key factors in making this a possibility is by maintaining and encouraging the most diverse workforce possible. Along with a paradigm shift that prioritizes diversity, it is recommended to adopt an affirmative action plan. An affirmative action plan can help to locate and address deficiencies within the company’s diversity commitment and avoid future litigation, but it must be properly managed.

Explaining the Affirmative Action Plan

The first leg of the affirmative action plan would require for the company to maintain detailed records, showing the diversity breakdowns of employees within the company. The records should indicate gender, race, religious, and other protected statuses. The records must also show information on pay rates, time with company, promotions received, positions held, and similar information within the company for different diversity groups. This will immediately show where the company may be lacking, which will allow the company to bring about new initiatives to increase recruiting, training, or other benefits for protected groups that may be at a disadvantage. The company must be careful to make sure all groups—protected and otherwise—are given equal opportunity for employment and advancement. Enhanced sensitivity training may also be required to avoid those who have benefited from the affirmative action plan from appearing as tokens. They must be able to do their jobs and earn the respect afforded to anyone else in their same position.

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Complying with the Law

There are several federal laws that any company must be familiar with in order to avoid costly litigation in the future. Law dealing specifically with equal employment opportunity or employment discrimination include the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (most recent revision in 1994), Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (most recently amended in 1990), Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Civil Rights Act of 1991, and Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (Bohlander & Snell, 2007). There are other administrative orders as well as state and local laws that must be considered as well. An affirmative action plan will allow us to address them proactively. This is highly preferred as compared to reacting on reflex when there is a problem. By actively pursuing and instituting an affirmative action plan, the company is more likely able to apply for government grants and contracts.

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Affirmative Action Now not Later

It is also important to put an affirmative action plan in place sooner rather than later. No matter how necessary a change may be, and how willing employees may appear to accept said change, there will always be resistance. By implementing an affirmative action plan before there is an issue, it will be easier to acclimate existing workforce members to the concepts. This will also make it easier to indoctrinate incoming employees to the concepts of and drive behind the affirmative action plan as the company continues to grow.

Any company not specifically required to utilize a formal affirmative action plan, such as those not under government contract or court order, must be careful in how they draft their voluntary affirmative action plans. The Personal Policy Service, Inc. website (2009) states “…any voluntary program must be narrowly tailored in time and scope so that it remedies past discrimination only. Plans that exceed this scope may expose the employer to potential liability for reverse discrimination.” It is also necessary to understand that a company cannot have one blanket affirmative action plan to cover all protected classes from being discriminated against. There must be one plan for women, another for minorities, another for veterans, etc. These plans must also be evaluated and written each year. This may seem like an undue burden or cost upon the company initially, but there are three reasons this is still a worthwhile investment. First, as previously mentioned, the affirmative action plan can prevent costly legal and publicity fallout in years to come. Next, the staff in charge of drafting and reviewing these articles each year will be well act practice in the event there is ever a necessity for the company to institute a formal affirmative action plan. Finally, if done properly, the affirmative action plan can enhance the diversity of the workplace, fostering a more welcoming community, retaining talented individuals, and enhancing company image in the public eye to both drive sales and recruiting.

Conclusion

All companies are required to comply with a variety of government issued standards and laws when as they relate to equal employment opportunity. By bring a voluntary affirmative action plan into play, we are reinventing our company image from the inside out. The research done may uncover past injustices that we are unaware of, which would require us to put an affirmative action plan into place in certain instances. Doing this will mitigate any potentially costly future legal action. Our staff will be properly prepared should we ever be required to put an affirmative action plan into place so that we can apply for big government contracts or have the necessity for governmental funding. The company will be able to encourage a diverse workplace, which has been shown to bring about innovation, cooperation, and communication that can rocket the company forward. It will also bring about the positive image the company needs to do more business with the public as well as recruit and retain top talent. The risks associated with an affirmative action plan are minimal when compared to the benefits. Those risks are further decimated when proper research and planning goes into the initial stages. By the company adopting a formal affirmative action plan, we are being proactive in protecting our assets, preparing for the future, and enhancing our corporate diversity.

References

Bohlander, & Snell. (2007). Managing Human Resources (14th ed.). : Thomson South-Western.

Personal Policy Service, Inc.. (2009). Who needs written affirmative action plans?. Retrieved February 21, 2010 from http://www.ppspublishers.com/articles/gl/aap_who_needs.htm

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