An affirmative workplace can act as a competitive advantage if handled properly. Significantly, it can also help foster social and civic peace. An "affirmative workplace" is a phrase referring to an office or some other area of commercial labor that has complied by affirmative action criteria, whether imposed by the state or through ideological commitment. Affirmative action is a policy and set of hiring and promotion criteria, while an affirmative workplace is the result of affirmative action policies.
Affirmative action is not designed to keep employers from discrimination. The Civil Rights laws have long taken care of that. Affirmative action refers to the workplace accurately reflecting the ethnic and racial makeup of the area in which it is located, or the area from which employees are drawn. As such, it is distinct from civil rights legislation that criminalizes discrimination. Its controversy is drawn from this distinction in purpose.
If the affirmative workplace is achieved through the best form of affirmative action, the advantage to the firm is having sought out the best and brightest of all America's population. Somewhere in poor, rural America or the city streets of Detroit could be the next Barack Obama. For a firm to search for this in unlikely places might result in the discovery of talent that otherwise would have been ignored. Itself, this could be a sort of competitive advantage.
Affirmative action at its worst is about hiring and promoting based exclusively on race. It is a promotion policy that requires employees and even investment decisions to reflect the racial makeup of the immediate environment. If the surrounding area is 30 percent black and your firm employees are only 20 percent black, then you are ipso facto guilty of bigotry, and the burden of proof is on you to prove otherwise. If this is the case, then the workplace will be toxic. Workers will wonder which promotions are based on merit, and which on government mandate. Every new minority employee may be looked at with suspicion. A minority woman who gets promoted to an executive position will wonder if this is based on her performance or some government demand. Governments now are in charge of who gets hired and promoted.
An affirmative workplace has no relation to actual job performance. It is merely the mathematical connection of the racial proportions of the region to the racial proportions of the firm. If they match, then it is an affirmative workplace. If not, then the firm is looking at possible lawsuits from minority advocacy groups or the government. This means that firms begin hiring and promoting solely to appease governments and various interest groups in the area. Talent may be overlooked because employers are forced to fulfill ethnic, gender and racial quotas.