Prime areas of concern in the American workforce

Former President Bill Clinton: "Our challenge is twofold: first to restore the American dream of opportunity and the American value of responsibility; and second, to bring our country together amid all our diversity in a stronger community, so that we can find common ground and move forward as one. " (Chavez, 1998) This quote comes from a televised speech in 1995 which was about the issue of defending civil rights and equal opportunity. These are two prime areas of concern in the American workforce. Due to the fact the U. S.is comprised of ethnic and gender varieties, methods are necessary to compliment a standard of respectability and fairness.

However, policies which are implemented in the workplace to create a fair and respectable medium can create problems and many debatable arguments. Some work related issues that are relevant to both ethnic and gender differences are: affirmative action, feminism, sexual harassment, and even the "glass ceiling. " These issues will be discussed in relation to how they impose argumentative problems in the workforce.

Therefore, an informative point of view will show how one can be affected. Neither issue will be presented in a "pro" or "con" perspective. Instead, an unbiased account will show various arguments that apply to each respective issue – enabling the reader to have somewhat of a general understanding. Appropriate statistics and figures, along with the historical development of certain issues, will be incorporated as well. Due to California's populous and diverse nature, there will be some emphasis presented in this state.

Hopefully the reader will be able to determine all the issues involved within a "neutral" perspective. California could be considered as the most ethnically diverse state in America. According to a state demographics survey conducted in 2002, "the annual population growth exceeded the half-million mark (591,000) for the fourth year in a row. This brought the total population count to about 35,591,000. " (http://www. npg. org/states/statenews/ca_listserv6. html#capop) Within this vast population, "minority" groups make up "over half the state's population and nearly half the labor force.

In addition, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and other minorities will account for nearly two-thirds of new workers between now and the year 2008. " (http://www. jobjournal. com/article_full_text. asp? artic/=379) With respect to these numbers, the term minority is and can be outdated. However, as long as the population continues to increase at such a high level and remains ethnically diverse, appropriate policies are necessary in order to satisfy all various groups competing within the workforce. Affirmative action is a policy that serves to benefit those considered as minorities.

A sense of ethnic community can be achieved when this policy is implemented. However, the integrity of affirmative action is always under scrutiny and debate. Arguments always arise as far as the purpose and results of affirmative action. First of all it would benefit to have a working definition of affirmative action; along with any terms that relate to it as well. According to Louis P. Pojman, "affirmative action is the effort to rectify the injustice of the past by special policies. It's an attempt to correct and compensate for past injustices.

" (Beckwith and Jones, 1997) His other definitions are: "Discrimination – is simply judging one thing to differ from another on the basis of some criterion. Prejudice – discrimination on irrelevant grounds. Equal opportunity – is offering everyone a fair chance at the best positions that society has at its disposal. Only native aptitude and effort should be decisive in the outcome, not factors of race, sex or special favors. " (Beckwith and Jones, 1997) All these terms are somewhat correlated and used interchangeably by advocates for or against affirmative action.

In a historical sense, affirmative action transcended from the practice of equal employment opportunities. Racial barriers were beginning to fall in the 1960's. The black minority was in a position to be integrated into the system of political, social, and economic institutions along with associations through which a representation of public policy was designed. Congress would guarantee the right of equal employment opportunities within private industries for every individual by means of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It was declared in Title VII of the act that it would be "an unlawful employment practice for companies and labor organizations with 25 employees or members to fail or refuse to hire, to exclude or expel, or to limit, segregate, or classify its employees or members in any way that would deprive any individual of employment opportunities because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. " (Belz, 1991) Besides the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act, prior till 1964, federal regulation for private employment relations was unattainable.

"Title VII requires equal opportunity based on individual rights and is intended to prohibit race-conscious employment practices. " (Belz, 1991) Employers at the time could have been considered to discriminate in a manner in which any concepts of group rights needed preferential treatment. Any opposition to the hiring of minorities for employment could have been justified by business necessity. Under the Kennedy Administration's government contract program, Title VII was enforced in 1965; which caused the concept of American equality to be redefined under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Even though the EEOC had limited powers, it was able to "investigate individual and commissioner-initiated charges, making findings of reasonable cause to believe discrimination had occurred, and conciliating disputes between the complainant and the employer. " (Belz, 1991) This enactment allowed basic principles of employment discrimination to be revised. The EEOC's functions were transferred by as late as 1969 to the Secretary of Labor – which created the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCC).

Instead of previous individual discriminatory acts, under contract compliance, the practice of affirmative action was directed at collective social and institutional discriminations. However, the OFCC and EEOC would both pose problems for employment discrimination; such as transfer rights, upgrading, seniority system desegregation, apprentice selection, testing, and of course the canvassing of the work force in a racial advent. Contractors were probably first pressured to hire minorities in 1969 under the Philadelphia plan and the Government Contracts Committee; and along with Vice-president Nixon's efforts.

Executive Order 11478 was issued in August 1969 — "a continuing affirmative program for recruitment, employment, development, and advancement of members of the civil service. Specific steps to be taken included full use of the present skills of each employee and 'maximum feasible opportunity to employees' to gain the skills necessary to advancement. " (Belz, 1991) Up until 1969, the presented actions and legislative procedures can be considered as the creation of the "gateway" in which the potential of affirmative action would exist.