Affirmative Action

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When structural conflicts or imbalance increase in our society, we need regulation. By establishing regulative rules we ensure that ideally all people may find ways to articulate their needs and interests or tom participate and involve. Which set of rules and procedures needs to be introduced to ensure more equality in our society? What specific experiences were helpful for us in our concrete experience and how might they become helpful as well for the general public?

When we think about the kind of rules we might introduce, we can distinguish between two types. The first are restrictions, which often apply to privileged people: Don’t interrupt anyone. Don’t shout. Let everyone contribute. Do not treat anyone unfairly.

In contrast, the other type of regulations gives people privileges. These regulations provide support for those people who usually experience (structural) discrimination. Such measures are called affirmative action, positive action, or positive discrimination.

Affirmative action refers to means positive steps taken to increase
the representation of any kind of minorities in areas of employment,
education, and culture from which they have been historically excluded. 

The nature of affirmative action policies varies from region to region. Some countries, such as India, use a quota system, whereby a certain percentage of jobs or school vacancies must be set aside for members of a certain group. In some other regions, specific quotas do not exist; instead, members of minorities are given preference in selection processes.

[edit] Examples of Affirmative Action

How does that look in practice? In some countries laws guarantee that a certain percentage of important board positions must be filled by females. If you are a female manager in such an enterprise (for example in Norway), then affirmative action increases your chances of attaining a top-level position. In other countries there are specific stipendia for students from minority groups. In many governments, both local and national, there are rules that guarantee that parties are allotted speech time proportional to their importance. You are familiar with other examples from media, politics, and discussions. Which ones would be worth applying to your specific team or group?

Examples for Affirmative Action
  • Minority rights in an assembly
  • Female quota on boards
  • Scholarships quotas for minorities
  • Specific supporting activities such as trainings or mentoring
  • Gender-equal lists of speakers in a discussion
  • Codifications for the use of language or for behavior
  • Selection criteria for positions that are neutral or include skills of minorities or marginalized groups
  • Working conditions that allow everyone to get involved

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