Affirmative action: a necessary evil?
(2014) Affirmative action: a necessary evil?, no. 77.
Context - Positive discrimination stems from the American concept of affirmative action. Literature within this area is more commonly associated with affirmative action in America and there is a lack of literature from a UK perspective. Therefore, this dissertation will examine positive discrimination within the UK. Objectives - Affirmative action is considered a highly controversial and a highly debated topic (Kravitz 2008 and Coate and Loury 1993). The research project begins with an analysis of the opposing features of positive discrimination and evaluates their merits and faults through study of the literature. Using this as a foundation, the interviews focused upon the understanding and opinions of research participants regarding positive discrimination. This case study of positive discrimination within Edinburgh explores whether positive discrimination is an appropriate measure to produce an equally diverse and representative workforce. Design - The research was conducted under the qualitative method, as the research is concerned with the 'how' and 'why'. Participants were drawn from the private, public and third sectors to ensure a broad representation. Method - A semi-structured interview process was conducted, each interview followed a list of questions, but there was scope for further questions based upon the participant's answers. Results - The results show that, although the participants can identify the benefit of increased diversity that is brought through the use of positive discrimination, this does not, for them, outweigh the many negative attributes identified. The principles of merit and ability were more important to the participants when considering recruitment and a workforce's demographic. It was considered that people should be acknowledged for their skill and experience, not their physical attributes - contrary to the underlying principle of positive discrimination. Conclusions - The research concludes that, from the perspective of the participants, positive discrimination is an evil, which is not necessary to ensure equality within organisations. However, it is acknowledged that further research is needed and future areas are identified.