Why Are People Afraid Of Affirmative Action?

The hiring business is still very conservative. I recall one example: I was witnessing a search committee do their job and an otherwise qualified candidate admitted in their application that they had Bipolar Disorder, which explained some gaps in their CV. The candidate was rejected because the search committee thought the candidate may be unstable. I thought: Isn’t that discrimination? And besides, let the applicant decide whether they are stable enough to handle the job.

I’ve known people of color who say they generally support affirmative action, but do not want to be known as an affirmative action candidate. Why not?

The truth is: The more conservative people among us have tainted a great policy. People say they want diverse candidates, but they also want qualified candidates. As if the two cannot be in the same person.

We know that minorities, people with disabilities and others work harder than people who fit the status quo in order to get the same results and that they have to be twice as good in order to get the job. Why, then, do we still favor a timid, conservative approach to hiring?

I’ve seen many job adverts—possibly thousands, when I’ve been on the job market—that indicate the employer is looking for diverse candidates. Yet, we still do not hire diverse people.

It’s time we throw out the old, worn-out idea that affirmative action is bad. It’s time we favor more liberal policies because, after all, diversity makes an organization great.

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