HRreview: Sue Brooks – Why “Affirmative Action” Needs Careful Management

Cielo Chief Innovation Officer, Sue Brooks, was published this week on HRreview, a global news and informational resource for HR and talent acquisition professionals. The article, Why “Affirmative Action” Needs Careful Management, discusses that, while the HR community recognizes the importance of workplace diversity, there isn’t yet “universal clarity” regarding how best to implement diversity strategies.

Further, according to Sue, “To make [diversity] matters more complicated, it appears that the effectiveness of one of the original tools for achieving diversity – affirmative action – is being questioned.” 

Excerpts from the article: 

A new exhaustive analysis of research into the effectiveness of affirmative action, conducted by a team from such heavy hitters as New York University (NYU) and the University of Michigan, has found that, in some cases, [affirmative action] may actually cause more problems than it solves.

Lisa Leslie of NYU points out … “When you implement policies like this it signifies that certain groups need extra help.” Or, to phrase it another way, that they aren’t actually up to the job. And this, of course, militates against the key message about the value of diversity – that real talent isn’t exclusive to a specific gender, ethnicity or nationality, but can come in any human form.

So, does this mean that we should abandon affirmative action completely? In my view this may be just one step too far. Experience shows that diversity doesn’t just happen spontaneously, it needs to be kick-started in some way. But if not handled properly this can all too easily look like favoritism. 

Developing and delivering messages may not be the comfort zone of the HR specialist … but it’s a challenge that simply cannot be ignored or avoided.

For access to Sue’s full article on how to carefully manage affirmative action, visit: