Present efforts to repeal affirmative action are based on several general misconceptions. One is that our society, having reached a point of true equality, no longer needs programs that help government recruit and hire qualified women, people of color, and persons with disabilities. Unfortunately, there is abundant evidence -- from Census Bureau data and academic studies, to news accounts and everyday experiences -- that we still have a long way to go to achieve equality of opportunity for all social groups.
Another misconception is that affirmative action is based on quotas, and that, as a result, the government is hiring unqualified candidates. This view fundamentally misrepresents the reality of affirmative action in the City of Seattle. The City's affirmative action program does not establish numerical quotas for hiring decisions, nor does it result in the hiring of unqualified candidates on the basis of gender or race.
What the City of Seattle's affirmative action program does is very simple: first, it gives City managers and personnel officers a snapshot of the labor market, so that they are aware of the availability rates for different groups for a given job classification.
Through these availability rates, the City can determine whether or not women, people of color, or persons with disabilities are underrepresented in a given job classification within the work force; second, the City's affirmative action program encourages managers and personnel officers to make special outreach efforts into groups and communities that are underrepresented in our work force, in order to increase the number of qualified candidates in the potential hiring pool;
Third, the City's affirmative action program directs that when there are two fully qualified candidates for a given position, preference should be given to the candidate that will make our work force more reflective of the labor pool...