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Social Policies and Equal Opportunities for Minority Groups


For many years, the disadvantaged and minority groups have been underrepresented in education, employment, and housing. Moreover, the people of color have suffered historical exclusion and have missed several opportunities since the merit was based on race. For example, considering race as an admission factor in higher education has been in place for over four decades. Additionally, in workplaces, women have failed to compete favorably with men for managerial positions because of the apparent consideration of men as a superior gender and the affirmative action policy to help ensure equality.

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Petters and Schröder (2019) define affirmative action as a deliberate effort, through government policy, to help minority groups compete favorably in obtaining housing, getting admissions at universities, and finding employment. These endeavors have been a result of enormous support from women activists and other human rights advocates. African Americans have been the latest beneficiaries of this policy since, initially; a white was twice likely to get a higher education opportunity than a black (Wellons, 2019). Although some studies suggest otherwise, social policies such as affirmative action are needed to offer equal opportunities to minority group members who have suffered historical exclusion.

The Affirmative Side of the Issue

Social policies like affirmative action have gained momentum in recent years, and they have been successful in addressing the various historical disparities. For example, diversity has been achieved in many areas, including employment and education, and women have managed to compete with men to attain leadership positions in the private and public sectors reasonably (Petters & Schröder, 2019). Therefore social policies have become widely accepted by people for various reasons. The first one is that climbing the socioeconomic ladder has become fair and easy for individuals regardless of their race, social class, or gender.

In the early 1960s, women and people of color were discriminated against and never given equal opportunities (Wellons, 2019). However, social policies like affirmative action have been effective in rectifying such historical disparities. A person’s socioeconomic status is determined by education, income, and occupation. When disadvantaged and minority groups are accorded equal opportunity, it becomes easier for them to climb the socioeconomic ladder as they have education and employment, which are critical determinants of class. Therefore, social policies like affirmative action are much needed because they are essential instruments to enable one to climb the socioeconomic ladder.

Second, these policies have ensured diversity in schools and workplaces. Women have historically been sidelined in many decision-making positions in corporations. However, with such social policies as affirmative action, they have secured leadership positions, which they would otherwise not have achieved. Before the introduction of this policy, over 66% of managerial seats were occupied by men in both the private and public sectors (Wellons, 2019).

This underrepresentation has been minimized by affirmative action, which is a win for the minority gender. Moreover, according to Burzynska and Contreras (2020), the direct selection to board positions has been affected to accommodate the explicit requirement of gender representation. The selection panels are more actively looking for women in their networks, making them more visible to effectively compete with men for similar positions. As a result, the number of women who are directors has increased from 5.61% to 22.39% after introducing the quotas (Burzynska & Contreras, 2020). Therefore, binding gender quotas have benefited women more than before because of affirmative action, which underscores the need for such social policies.

Moreover, women and other minority groups have joined the university as they have been offered equal opportunities. The disadvantaged groups have historically been trapped in poverty because of their inability to access higher education. However, scholarships and grants specifically for this category, through affirmative action, have played a significant role in pursuing equality for minority groups. Moreover, the number of children missing higher education opportunities continues to decrease because of such social policies as affirmative action. Thus, the attainment of education for such groups promises a positive future in terms of socioeconomic status, health, and income, which underpins the need for affirmative action.

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The Negative Side of the Issue

Although social policies like affirmative action are deemed to achieve equal opportunities for minority groups, they have their negative side. Thaxton (2020) presents a detailed analysis of how the affirmative action’s debating sides fail to adhere to the essential precepts of causal inference. His primary focus is on the main deficiencies that affect this research, with a particular focus on law schools. Some of these discrepancies include measurement error, extrapolation, interpolation, and nonresponse.

The most notable negative effect of social policies such as affirmative action is the distortion in performance evaluations since quota interventions adversely impact subjective peer-reviews. For example, Petters and Schröder (2019) argue that social policies, such as affirmative action, change the competitive structure substantially. Such programs encourage minority groups, for instance, women, to perform below the expectations because the quotas back them up.

Although Burzynska and Contreras (2020) argue that social policies stimulate diversity, they lead to biased peer reviews since the parameters and targets for men and women in leadership positions are not measured against a constant benchmark. In that case, affirmative action demeans true achievement since minority groups’ success is viewed as assisted rather than their hard work, which can adversely affect their confidence in their abilities. Therefore, although social policies have been found to enable minority groups to achieve equality, they also have adverse effects.

Further, affirmative action is a form of reverse discrimination and lacks meritocracy. In most cases, there are a limited number of scholarships and grants to be given to students. However, affirmative action gives minority groups an upper hand over the non-disadvantaged ones, leading to reverse discrimination (Petters & Schröder, 2019). In that case, the talented individuals miss the opportunity because the benefits are specifically for minority groups, which may make the hatred between these two social groups even worse. Moreover, social policies such as affirmative action lack meritocracy because educational institutions are forced to admit students based on their gender or race. Therefore, social policies, although needed to offer equal opportunities for minority groups, have their negative side.

The Actions Society Has Taken to Resolve the Issue

The first step that has been taken by society is the passing of anti-discriminatory laws which protect minority groups from segregation and exploitation by the majority ones. For example, the 5th and 14th Amendments discourage state and federal governments from discriminating (Petters & Schröder, 2019). Unfortunately, the people of color have historically suffered discrimination even though the Constitution protected them. However, in recent times, with social activism and policies, such as affirmative action, their rights have been more safeguarded than before. Moreover, these legislations have enabled more minority group members to obtain equal housing, education, and employment opportunities. Therefore, passing anti-discrimination laws is one of the most notable efforts by society to address this issue.

Another intervention is the enactment of employment laws aimed at eliminating discrimination based on race or gender. The employment law has helped handle the many discriminatory processes that were the leading factor for employment disparities in the United States. In the past, employment opportunities were given based on religion, race, gender, physical disability, and sexual orientation, and there were also biases in compensation, termination, job assignment, hiring, and promotion.

For example, according to Wellons (2019), a white person was twice more likely to land a job opportunity than a black individual even when they had equivalent academic qualifications. Moreover, Petters and Schröder (2019) state that in the workplace, before the enactment of social policies such as affirmative action, a man was more likely to be promoted to a leadership position than a woman. However, nowadays, with the passage of workplace policies and employment laws, these gaps have almost been filled.

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In conclusion, social policies are needed to provide equal opportunities for minority group members. With the introduction of these programs, the historical disparities in education, housing, and employment have been addressed, and the gaps are slowly being filled. Without these policies, the people of color could be languishing in poverty because they would be lacking higher education slots which have been instrumental in promising a better future for them due to better incomes and socioeconomic status.

Presently, with the adoption of binding gender quotas, women have been accorded the opportunity to secure leadership positions, and indeed, their presence in such seats has increased. However, there are negatives in these policies, such as distorted performance evaluations and talented people from majority groups missing similar opportunities, leading to reverse discrimination. Nevertheless, an important thing to note is that social policies such as affirmative action are needed to offer equal opportunities to minority groups and eliminate the historical exclusions.


Burzynska, K., & Contreras, G. (2020). Affirmative action programs and network benefits in the number of board positions. PLoS ONE, 15(8), 1-26.

Petters, L., & Schröder, M. (2019). Negative side effects of affirmative action – How quotas lead to distortions in performance evaluation. SSRN Electronic Journal, 1-34.

Thaxton, S. (2020). How not to lie about affirmative action. U.C.L.A. Law Review, 834-1021.

Wellons, T. (2019). Affirmative action is still an effective and necessary tool. Contexts, 18(1), 80.

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