Affirmative Action Policy as a Way to Fight Discrimination


Affirmative action has a long history as far as its origin is concerned. The concept derives its evolution from the need to address rampant discrimination that existed in society. In the United States, affirmative action can be traced back to the 1960s when President Kennedy employed the term to address cases of discrimination. The origin of affirmative action as a concept comes from the need to get rid of racial discrimination in the United States.

This most often involved the African Americans. However affirmative action covers all forms of discrimination. Areas covered include gender, race, nationality, religion, and orientation. Affirmative action policy is a framework through which procedures and strategies to achieve equality are set out. Under normal circumstances, affirmative action entails the methods in which discrimination is going to be addressed. Therefore an affirmative action policy is a comprehensive proposition through which emancipation and equality are to be guaranteed. However, developing an affirmative action policy is not a simple process.

A lot of considerations must be taken so as to ensure the success and viability of the policy. A dubious policy of affirmative action is a ticket to failure and doom. Bearing in mind therefore that the nature of the policy determines the whole process of equality and emancipation, care must be taken during the formulation of the same. After formulation, the policy needs to be implemented so as to deliver the results. The implementation process must be monitored so as to ensure that the objectives of the policy are put to practice. At the same time monitoring is necessary so as to make certain changes where necessary.

Policy evaluation is equally important in the whole process of affirmative action. During this time, the policy guidelines are reviewed in line with the implementation process. The aim of this paper is to take an analytical perspective of the affirmative action policy. All the processes involved in the affirmative action policy development, implementation, and evaluation will be analyzed. The paper thus takes an analytical look at all the processes in the affirmative action policy.

Thesis Statement

Public policies are developed with the aim of addressing issues that are deemed to pose a challenge to the lives of people in society. The role and obligation of formulating public policies squarely lie with the government and others for administration. Therefore the formulation, implementation, evaluation, and analysis of any public policy are a complex process (Fobanjong 2001). It must be borne in mind that the essence of formulating a public policy lies in the purpose of the same.

An affirmative action policy is a framework through which equality and emancipation are sought to be achieved. Affirmative action deals with discrimination and ways of bringing it to an end. Affirmative policy action policy is a formulation of strategies through which equality can be achieved in social life. Formulating an efficient affirmative action policy involves a number of stages. First and foremost the objectives of the policy must be laid. This is the first process that ensures that the whole process has direction on whatever aspect it handles. In order to set the objectives of the policy adequate research and interaction must be conducted.

Through research, the nature of the problem is identified. In this case, the problems associated with discrimination are identified and analyzed. Affirmative action being a social issue there will be needed to collect the views of the public. Under such a program the public will give their views about the nature of discrimination. At the same time, the public will identify areas that need to be addressed by such a policy.

To make the formulation process successful certain groups in society should be given an opportunity to air their expectations of the policy. These groups represent the views and interests of the community. For instance, women’s organizations should be called upon so as to give their perspective of discrimination. Through this, they will also suggest how the policy can address their issues. Disability groups and welfare organizations have to be part and parcel of the process (Dye & Sussman 2008).

This ensures that the policy formulation stage is inclusive and relevant. Organizations representing minorities cannot be ignored in the process of formulation. The affirmative action policy must involve the inclusion of the views of those who are discriminated against. Identification of a future issue is another important aspect of policy formulation. Through these, the policy formulating committee develops consensus of the future state of affirmative action.

Through this, the committee can come up with methodologies to ensure the success of the policy. A consensus of the issue represents the aim of the policy to advance equity and equality in society. The final process as far as the formulation is concerned is the development of methodologies through which complex parameters will be addressed (West & Curry 1996). The formulation of affirmative action policy just like any other policy will experience the rise of issues of complex nature. Unless mechanisms are established to address these issues the whole process will be a flop.

The process does not end with the formulation. There is a need for adequate follow-up after the initial process. For affirmative action policy to be successful evaluation and implementation processes must be taken seriously. During the formulation process a lot of care must be taken to ensure that the policy will be practical. Improper design of affirmative action policy will lead to gross hiccups in the implementation process. Therefore it will fail to materialize if the design was done with total disregard of practical parameters (Sowell 2005). Monitoring the implementation process involves the measuring of the current results of the policy against the predetermined results. Through this, corrective action can be taken so as to ensure the success of the same..

Policy Process

Preparation of the affirmative policy is an involving process which requires diligence and due care. An efficient policy demands a lot of care during the time of designing the framework. Under normal circumstances the success of a policy depends on how it was formulated at the early stage. It is against this background that the preparation of a successful affirmative action policy requires a step by step procedure through which various aspects of the same are considered.

Under normal circumstances affirmative action deals with issues of discrimination. Discrimination on the other hand represents inequalities in which certain sections of society are deprived of their rights on the basis of their status. This status can take the form of sex, race, religion or nationality. The first and foremost step towards the development of a successful affirmative action policy therefore involves the identification of the issues. With respect to affirmative action the issues at hand include aspects of discrimination. Therefore the process of policy for affirmative action begins by identifying discriminative issues in the society.

At this stage all the data involving discrimination of members of society is collected and used in the formulation of the mechanisms to bring about equality. The problem identification stage just like any other stage of the process involves the participation of various categories of individuals and groups altogether. It is against this background that the process of making the affirmative policy is an inclusive one. Affirmative action cannot be made by one individual or group of individuals. Bearing in mind that the issue at stake as far as affirmative action is concerned is a social one; the whole community must be involved.

The public for instance plays a crucial role in the whole process of the policy. For the policy to be successful it must be in line with public demands and requirements. Under normal circumstances public policies are designed to address problems that affect the public. Affirmative action being a public policy therefore depends on the views, demands and expectations of the public. Seminars and forums must therefore be planned through which public opinion can be collected. Another significant channel through which the views of the people can be accessed is the democratic representation.

This works well especially when the process takes place in the legislature of government organ. Under such a framework the political leaders are deemed to represent the views of citizens. Therefore the formulation stage must take care of the needs and demands of the public for the policy to be successful. Steps must be taken to ensure that the public gets involved in the whole process. Affirmative action is all about people and its success depends on the participation and contribution of the public.

The agenda for affirmative action policy involves the identification of cases to do. The affirmative action policy must take into consideration practical parameters of the issues of discrimination. Through this the implementation of the policy will not only be made viable but sustainable.

A successful affirmative action policy involves the following steps:

  • Development of the policy
  • Identifying the affirmative action problem
  • The agenda
  • Formulation process
  • Legitimacy step
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation

Development of the Policy

The most important stage with regard to public policies is the development of the policy. Under normal circumstances all policies begin with the development. Without the development of the policy there will be no point of discussion or implementation. The success of a policy depends on appropriate measures taken during the development stage. The development of affirmative action policy involves two distinct areas.

First and foremost is the identification of the problem. Through this stage the real state of inequality and discrimination in the society is appraised. Adequate information needs to be collected about the status of discrimination in the society. Through this the needs of the society as far as affirmative action is concerned are identified. The purpose of the affirmative action policy is then laid down. Without the identification of the problem the aims and objectives of the policy will not be determined.

Secondly the establishment of the agenda is a very significant aspect of the development of the policy. At this point the course of action to be taken is identified. At the same time the kinds of problems to be addressed by the policy are determined. Formulation of the project follows the identification of agenda. At this point the policy framework is laid down for the purpose of addressing the aforesaid problems. This is a very important step since it determines the success of the whole process of the policy.

Identifying the Affirmative Action Problem

Affirmative action is a broad area which covers all forms of discrimination in society. The different forms of discrimination include, sex, gender, race, religion and nationality. As a result the formulation and implementation of affirmative action policy involves the proper identification of the problems to be addressed by the policy. A blind formulation without any stated set of problems will utmost achieve nothing.

It is against this background that the formulation of policies of affirmative action must include the proper identification of the problems related with equality and discrimination. This makes it easy for the policy to be implemented since it lays the blueprint for the whole process. Possible problems to be addressed by affirmative action policy may include, discrimination in employment, institutions of learning, religious segregation, sexual harassment and ethnic bias. In whichever case, the policy framework must enlist the problems it seeks to address. Apart from the list of the problems the policy statement must come up with methods of dealing with the aforesaid problems.

This process in essence is what the whole policy is all about. Without the proper identification of the problem there will be no need to formulate the policy. Therefore much care must be taken so as to do a thorough analysis before the identification of the problem. Wrong diagnosis of the problems will lead to a lame duck policy framework which will not only be impractical but also inefficient. In essence the identification of the problems sets the process in progress. A situation in which the identification process fails then the whole process consequently follows suit.

The Agenda

A policy cannot just be created from nowhere. Under normal; circumstances there must be an issue that is at stake which requires a policy to address. Policies are not just created, rather they are necessitated. The proverb, necessity is the mother of invention works right for any process of policy making. Therefore the process of building agenda sprouts from a prevalent problem that needs attention. An affirmative action policy can therefore be necessitated by rampant acts of discrimination. For instances increased cases of sexual harassment may lead the authorities to come up with a policy to address the menace. In such a case therefore, the whole process derives its origin from the aforesaid crisis.

Therefore under the agenda building stage, the purpose of the policy are laid down. This is done by taking into account the problem or crisis that necessitated the policy. The agenda of the policy in such case is the mechanism to put an end to the problem cited. Another perfect example is a civil war of a series of violence directed to a particular community or section of society. Such an event can therefore form the agenda of the policy. The policy therefore goes ahead to set out its objectives as the mitigation of the event. The agenda of the policy is normally set by a neutral occurrence which necessitates action.

Formulation Process

Formulation occupies the central place in the whole process of making the policy. It is at this stage that the policy proposals are made. The proposals include the areas where the policy will address. For instance in the case of affirmative action policy, proposals involves the issues of discrimination which the policy is going to resolve. Affirmative action policy is designed to set the stage where all kinds of discrimination in the society can be addressed and put to an end.

However an affirmative action policy can be prepared to handle specific issues of discrimination. For instance affirmative action policy can be made specifically for sexual harassment. Such a policy therefore will come up with proposals to resolve the relevant cases of sexual harassment. The formulation process involves the preparation of proposals that will be used by the policy to resolve the issues at stake. The formulation stage of the policy normally involves experts and think tanks. It becomes necessary to invoke the services of experts since the process is complicated. A little mistake at the formulation stage will leave the whole policy damaged.

At the same time the process of coming up with the proposals involves deeper analysis of the affirmative action situation. Statistics to track the situation have to be used. For instance if the policy is being made to address all kinds of discrimination then the proposals must be made by taking a look at the statistics of each and every aspect of discrimination so as to come up with relevant methodologies to handle the problem.

Incase the policy is being made for a specific act of discrimination like racism then all the data that involves racism in the society must be collected and although analysis done. Failure to take adequate care to look at the various factors that affect a parameter the policy proposals will be incompatible with reality. This will make the whole process a failure since the policy will not be in a position to address the issues.

Legitimacy Step

Public policies need to be made legitimate in order for them to be effective. After the development and formulation of the policy, it becomes necessary for the policy to gain legislative powers. This makes it enforceable so as to effect the changes that are needed. This section most involves the parliament and government. For affirmative action to be successful it needs to be taken through the legislative process so as to conform to the laws of the land.

This can happen in two different ways. The policy itself can be made into a legislative paper after which it will be taken to the parliament. In such a case the whole document can be adopted as an act of [parliament. Incase that happens then the policy becomes a law therefore making it more effective since it becomes binding for the society to conform to the proposals and provisions of the policy. However such a process requires a lot of procedures and can be said to be a complex one. One of the major factors that affect the legitimacy stage is the political will. There must be adequate political will for a policy to pass through.

Incase there is lack of political will then the policy might fail to sail through this stage. Another consideration is the compatibility of the policy with the constitution of the lands. Thorough scrutiny is done to ensure that the policy does not contradict or defeat the existing laws. Apart from that, the policy can form the basis upon which relevant laws can be created and enacted. In such a situation the policy does not need to be passed by the house. However the contents and proposals of the policy can be used to create laws that will seek to address matters of affirmative action as envisaged in the policy document.


The moment the development and formulation of the affirmative action policy is done, the next stage is implementation. In order to set the implementation process in progress various agencies and departments are put in place. Under normal circumstances the institutions that develop the policy are not the ones used to implement. A set of other organs are developed so as to oversee the implementation of the policy. Affirmative action policy can be implemented by establishment of certain departments in the government of the development of agencies for the same purpose. In such a case the parliament can establish an authority and confer upon it the powers to ensure that the policy is implemented. The establishment of a minority protection agency can go along way in the entire process of carrying out the policy.

The effectiveness of implementing the affirmative action policy depends on the nature of the policy, the link between the participants in its development and these with the responsibility of implementing it. The whole process of implementing the affirmative action policy involves the development of relationships. This will go a long way in ensuring the cooperation between several agencies. The implementation policy cannot be successfully handled by one party or agency. At the end of the day the implementation process involves a number of parties which need to cooperate to bring success to the whole process.

Therefore the most significant component of the implementation process is the coordination between the relevant parties. The implementation stage has a lot of challenges which must be identified and overcome accordingly. For instance resistance to change is one common challenge associated with the implementation of a policy. An affirmative action policy is likely to attract opposition from the conservatives who are the perpetrators of the old system.

Any attempt to change the order of events by a public policy is always met with equal opposition from certain quarters of the society. Through relationships and tact the implementation committee must fund a way through all these challenges. The best way as said earlier is the development of reliable relationships so as to bring about the desired change.


The implementation of the policy puts the proposals into action. The implementation of the policy is normally monitored so as to determine whether it is working as intended. In fact the implementation process is nothing but a test of the viability and sustainability of the policy. The evaluation of a public policy therefore follows the implementation process. As the policy gets to be implemented various aspects of the policy are analyzed so as to determine whether they conform to the original projections of the policy. Affirmative action policy can be evaluated in terms of whether it serves the purpose that it was intended.

At this stage changes can be proposed so as to ensure that the policy fulfills the objectives that it was intended for. For instance an affirmative action originally designed to protect the rights of the minorities might be implemented and the results might indicate loopholes which encourage the discrimination of the minorities.

In order to ensure that the policy conforms to the original objectives, several changes can be introduced so as to strengthen the rights of minorities. A common need for evaluation associated with the affirmative action policies is the legal interpretations of the clauses of the policy. Legally, a policy might be subject to misinterpretation making its purpose difficult. Sometimes the legal interpretations of the policy might defeat its purpose. In such a case, thorough evaluation must be done so as to effect changes that will restore the purpose of the policy.

A sensitive aspect like the affirmative action requires through and periodical evaluation. One of the reasons why evaluation is needed is the dynamics of time. Issues of affirmative action are time bound and the challenges of affirmative action tend to change with time. Therefore after the formulation of the policy conditions might change making the policy impractical and impossible. Without evaluation the policy might end up fulfilling nothing. Furthermore the implementation process of affirmative action policy reveals certain areas that had not been originally included in the policy. New arenas of focus manifest themselves making the policy implementation a difficult task.

Without a proper evaluation mechanism nothing will be achieved. Evaluation involves reporting the results of the policy. Affirmative action policy can be evaluated by reporting the results of the measures that have been already implemented. Through this the success and failure of the policy framework can be traced. In case the policy is a failure it can either be reviewed or withdrawn. If proper research was not done at the development stage, the policy ends up failing miserably. However evaluation of a policy normally involves the proposal and enacting changes so as to make the policy a success.

Role of the Media

The media plays a significant role as far as public policies are concerned. Since the policies are meant for the public the role f the media becomes crucial. Affirmative action is an issue that deals within social relations. As a result in the whole life cycle of the policy the media has a huge role to play. For instance, during the development of the policy at the problem identification stage, the media provides publicity for the policy.

At this juncture, the most important role is that of spreading awareness about a policy. This makes it possible for the public to be aware of the developments. This also prompts the public to come up with views and ideas which can be included in the policy. It is only through the media that the policy makers can work together with the public for the development of the policy. The media can also be an important tool for educating the society on the policy. After the formulation of the policy civic education becomes necessary. The best form of channel through which civic education can be done is the media. Apart from that, it is the role of the media to provide coverage about various events in the society.

As a result the media is responsible for providing coverage to various aspects of discrimination. Through this the process of making the policy can become easier. This is so, since the information gathered by the media can be instrumental in the design of the policy. Coverage of affirmative action matters in the media can have a profound impact on the success of the policy. For instance biased reporting by the media can defeat the endeavor of the media to address discrimination. Therefore the media through coverage of affirmative action can to a great extend lead to the success of the policy.

Competing Demands

In the whole process of the affirmative policy making there exist a number of competing demands. The policy must be designed in a manner that will address the demands. Competing demands represents those requirements that come up in the process of the policy yet they cannot the included in the whole system. For instance affirmative policy framework might come up with means of addressing discrimination against women.

However aspects of financing the process might not be provided for in the policy. Therefore affirmative action policy does not involve budgets for the fulfillment of certain goals. All the policy does is to come up with ways of addressing the issues. In one way or the other, a policy of affirmative action only contains the proposals on how to handle discrimination. Further more the policy cannot serve all the interests that are available. Certain things have to stand on their own. If these are not left out, then the policy might just end being a document that cannot succeed in anything.


The development of affirmative action policy involves a lot of process. Under normal circumstances each stage has its own significance. There are various parties involved in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of the policy. As far as affirmative action policy is concerned the first step is having the right kinds of data regarding the issue. The paper has an analytical look at the whole process of affirmative action policy. Each stage of the policy has been analyzed. It has therefore emerged that the process of making the policy is complex. As result the process not only requires time but also great efforts.


Dye, T. & Sussman, S. (2008). Instructor’s resource manual with test item file [for] Understanding public policy, twelfth edition. New York: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Fobanjong, J. (2001). Understanding the backlash against affirmative action. New York: Nova Publishers.

Sowell, T. (2005). Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study. Yale: Yale University Press.

West, C. & Curry, G. (1996). The affirmative action debate. Washington: Addison-Wesley.

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