Affirmative Action is Reverse Discrimination

Essay by cherylchenUniversity, Master's September 2004

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1.0 The Thesis

The issue of whether affirmative action is reverse discrimination is controversial. Before discussing arguments for and against the issue, one needs to understand the meaning of the statement. Affirmative action, Carroll and Buchholtz (2000, P. 534) defined it as "the taking of positive steps to hire and promote people from groups previously discriminated against." Shaw & Barry (2004, P.464) states that affirmative action "means programs taking the race or sex of employees or job candidates into account as part of an effort to correct imbalances in employment that exist as a result of past discrimination, either in the company itself or in the larger society." Its purpose is to correct past discrimination in employment on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, national origin, etc. (Carroll & Buchholtz, 2000; Shaw & Barry, 2004) The statement of "affirmative action is reverse discrimination" implies that the action which attempts to end discrimination actually requires discrimination.

In my arguments below, I will focus on affirmative action with regards to gender, race and national origin in the business context.

2.0 Arguments for "Affirmative Action is Reverse Discrimination"

1. The fact of affirmative action is that it attempts to end discrimination with discrimination, that is, reverse discrimination..

The purpose of affirmative action is to correct the past discrimination based on race, sex, religion, etc. But the way that affirmative action taken to achieve this is to sacrifice the rights of others, which leads to reverse discrimination: as we are all members of some minority or majority groups, helping one group would certainly disadvantage others. For example, in USA, under affirmative action, a company might prefer to hire the minority like women or colored people instead of white males, disregarding the criteria of whether they are better qualified. Under such circumstances, affirmative...