If managed effectively, anti-discrimination policies and practices generate important management information and help to shape desirable behavior through the ‘boundary setting’ of policies and codes of conduct. In addition, personnel information systems and regular ‘health checks’ in the guise of attitude and climate surveys can monitor the progress of specific groups and the environment in which they operate. It is on this solid platform that diversity management policy and practice can be erected.
Therefore, fairness in employment is likely to be most effective when built on the operational gains of equal opportunities. Employment fairness is most likely to be effective when there is proactive employee and manager involvement and commitment. It has been argued by some that managers are better able to deliver employment fairness management as a general line activity (rather than diversity management being delivered as a specialist ‘support’ activity which ‘oversees’ line management action) when the ‘business case’ is proven (Dovidio and Gaertner, 1996).
Diversity management is often introduced through the mechanisms of business strategy, human resource management policy and practice, and change intervention. To ensure that discrimination against minority workers does not persist, a more effective means of achieving the goal of nondiscrimination may be to fashion affirmative relief which, in addition to requiring advertising and notice of job opportunities to the minority community, contains an order establishing numbers, ratios, or goals. This may be the only way the statute can be made a reality for blacks and other minorities throughout the country.
One particular recommendation that stands out is the need to implement affirmative action programs within contemporary business organizations. The concept of affirmative action and what it could do to decrease the occurrence of employment discrimination would be the subject of discussion of the next section. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PROGRAMS Dipboye and Colella (2005) explains affirmative action through stating that it requires that the employer move to ensure employment neutrality with regard to race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
This issue continues to be a controversial one as society progresses. There are no easy answers, no easy solutions, and because of that, managers of organizations with human resources responsibilities should pay close attention to the future of affirmative action. Affirmative action therefore requires that employers make additional efforts to recruit, employ and promote qualified members of groups covered under the order that employers have formerly excluded, even if the exclusion was not due to discriminatory action on the employer’s part.
Shum and Moss (2002) argues that affirmative action has been instrumental in bringing about the most massive increase in American history in the power of government to interfere with once-private transactions. Thus there is more to this issue than race or gender. Affirmative action and other race-conscious preferences have accordingly been criticized not just by whites but by black intellectuals such as Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Glenn Loury, Anne Wortham, William Julius Wilson, Shelby Steele, and Clarence Thomas. Some of their criticisms have been as severe as anything ever produced by a white man (Dovidio and Gaertner, 1996).
Essentially, affirmative action programs are aimed at eliminating employment discrimination against women and racial minorities and to redress the effects of past discrimination within an organization. In effect, affirmative action is designed to ‘play catch-up’—to achieve accelerated progress in employment opportunities for minorities and women, in order to make up for many years of past discrimination. In response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246, and other social and governmental pressures, numerous human resource management practices were implemented in the 1970s and 1980s (Burke and Cooper, 2004).
The Executive Order 11246, in particular, as amended prohibits job discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin and requires affirmative action to ensure quality of opportunity in all aspects of employment (Heilman, Block and Stathatos, 1997). These affirmative action programs were attempts to increase the presence of underrepresented groups, typically women and minorities. There is clear evidence, that affirmative action practices made a positive impact on the presence and pay of underrepresented groups.