North America would finally become truly equal

As we all know, affirmative action was implemented with the idea and hope that North America would finally become truly equal. Originating within the National Labour Relations Act of 1935, it was originally put in place to prohibit private employers from discriminating against persons because of membership in labour unions. 1 Affirmative action was envisioned as a temporary remedy that would end once there was a "level playing field" for North America. So far, it has lasted for thirty years without solving any of our current problems concerning equal rights, it is making things worse.

More apparent than ever, affirmative action hinders women in the workplace and produces a stressful working environment. It creates isolation, segregation and separation. Unmistakably there are pros and cons within this unfinished issue; however, written statistics, economic facts and real life instances display the drawbacks created within our continent. To get a better understanding of this forever debating issue, we must first understand the definition of affirmative action and its distinctive components.

Defining Affirmative Action can be done in many ways. The general definition of this program is: affirmative action exists whenever an organization goes out of its way (i. e. exerts effort) to help realize the goal of true equality among people. 2 A distinction must also be made concerning the aspect of classical affirmative action, its components and other laws and regulations that are sometimes tied with it. Classical affirmative action is the action policy established by Executive Order 11246, developed by President Lyndon Johnson.

This form of affirmative action plan includes many elements and processes. One author (Tucker, 2000, 17) states that to be an affirmative action employer is to make sure that the organization imposes no artificial barriers to persons in targeted categories. This plan, on the other hand, has one problem with it. In its efforts not to discriminate against minorities such as ethnic minorities, women and white males that have fought in the Vietnam War, this unorganized plan ends up discriminating unintentionally against white males.

This creates a term by the name of reverse discrimination. Reverse discrimination occurs in many instances and, in many opinions, is just as severe as discrimination. Affirmative action appears in many categories as well as sub-categories. These categories, as follows, pertain to different types of work and different types of people. The first out of five is the "targeted hiring type". The person in charge of hiring commonly uses this method with the intention of hiring someone of a specific gender or race before even looking at their qualifications.

An up-to-date example is the past president Bill Clinton and his determination to hire a woman as U. S. Attorney General who would later end up being Janet Reno. 4 Another variety of affirmative action is the "quota type", which is defined as a program with specific numbers. These numbers concern the amount of minorities that a company must hire during the course of for example a year. A third type is "preference programs". These programs do not necessarily have quotas; they give preference to specific categories of people.

A case illustrating this method occurs when a university admission program gives bonus marks on a test to a certain type of person or gender. The fourth example concerning affirmative action types is the "Self-Examination Type". This method can be found more commonly in locations such as universities and the government. Typically, research is done to determine what the numerical situation is with respect to minorities and women. Then goals and timetables are set up for increasing their proportions in certain, generally upper-level, job categories.

5 The fifth type is an "Outreach" plan. This program is put in place to give women and minorities chances at job titles that they would normally not have that good a chance at. The final type of affirmative action is called "non-discrimination". Within this category, there are two sub-types which are active and passive non-discrimination. Active non-discrimination usually involves a wide range of practices, usually avoiding discrimination and "sensitivity training" such as tests and educational requirements.

Passive non-discrimination lies outside affirmative action and is part of an ongoing debate whether it is even part of affirmative action at all. These different types of affirmative action listed, create debate, controversy and disruption and are simply useless. Parameters and rules also apply to the use of affirmative action. Though not formal in character, certain guidelines are known and followed when affirmative action is put in place.

These guidelines are as follows: the plan must be remedial in that it addresses a past or current deficiency; the plan does not unnecessarily trample non-minority interests; the plan cannot exclude uncovered groups; the plan must be flexible; and the plan must be temporary. 6 These rules, though put in place with good intentions, are poorly executed. Take for example the rule set in place that prevents the discrimination of "non-minority interests". How can a plan put in place to aid every minority, except the white male, not cause discrimination itself? It is impossible.