When is it appropriate for a Court to seek race or gender-based solutions
When is it appropriate for a Court to seek race or gender-based solutions for past discrimination problems, and what impact has affirmative action had on employment practices in this country?
We’ve been asked to read the case of Taxman v. Board of Education to present arguments on both sides of the affirmative action debate. This is the link – Taxman v. Board of Education
In the first case study described, a Black woman received preference over the equally senior White employee in not being dismissed. The justification offered was a plea towards a race sensitive approach to equal opportunity. The contention was that the race sensitive approach would ultimately undermine the equality of opportunity code that employers stand by because it was not based on a standard of merit or efficiency. The counter justification given was not a direct argument, but emphasized that racial diversity was essential to the health of the institution.
In the third case study quoted, it was shown that a woman’s minority status awarded her preference for a promotion, over six other equally qualified male colleagues. Again, the appeal to race or gender based solutions to break a tie in merit is a more nuanced interpretation of minority disadvantages, claiming to take into account the fact of historical disadvantage, which makes affirmative action fair.
Statistically, affirmative action has been correlated with a better institutional environment and a more productive space. The idea is not to give racial or gender minorities an undue advantage by showing them voluntary preference, but to help disqualify stereotypes about genders and races and the occupational spaces that each can inhabit. Some companies take a militant approach to it, by setting a diversity goal which is actively worked towards, and some may chose to enforce it in more subtle ways, like the two case studies given