Affirmation Action

As my roommate is looking for corporate internships in the summer, I absorbed a lot of the information. I became aware of special employment opportunities for LGBTQ students. At first, I was confused why sexual orientation should be a factor. Surely it is inappropriate to mention such private information in a professional environment.

However, I realized it is to the company’s benefit to hire LGBTQ identifying young population. Companies like Morgan Stanley, Citi, etc are known to be traditional Wall Street companies. However, their focus is now more on global markets and it is important that their employees reflect this increase in diversity. LGBTQ clients are going to be naturally drawn to LGBTQ friendly companies.

I have talked to many students who are against special opportunities for minorities. They believe it is unfair for minorities to have more opportunities because they might have had difficult lives. Before taking this class, I admit I thought the same thing. If I have a higher GPA, why am I at an disadvantage for being Asian? Is that not racism?

This was a totally wrong viewpoint. Hiring and accepting minority/LGBTQ students is not to help them out of some sense of pity because they may have had a more difficult life. Simply, they bring diversity and attract clients who will identify with them. I think affirmative action/ special opportunities is more of an economical decision on the part of the company.

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2 Responses to Affirmation Action

  1. Lauren Linsky says:

    I have thought long and hard about the viability of affirmative action. I like the idea of it: it certainly makes sense to try and right past injustices; however, I tend to believe that, in practice, rather than righting past discriminative wrongs, it perpetuates discrimination. I allege that affirmative action practices are inherently discriminatory (and, therefore, unjust), as they treat individuals differently based solely on observable characteristics.

    I have an African-American friend who is brilliant. Many people, though, automatically identify her as a beneficiary of affirmative action, which tends to undermine her own personal achievements. People default to the idea that “she only got into Penn/got that internship/got that job because she’s black,” whether or not there is any truth behind that idea.

    Similarly, it genuinely bothers me that it may have been easier for me to get into Wharton simply because I identify as a female. I want there to be no doubt that I got where I am because of my merits and not because because of what’s going on underneath my jeans. I have another friend with whom I’ve discussed this a lot, and she sees things differently. Her argument is that I should take whatever opportunities are offered to me, whether or not they are “fair.” She thinks that if my gender opens doors for me, then I should take the opportunity to kick that door wide open. To be honest, though, if I can’t open a certain door myself, then I’d rather enter a different room, thank you very much.

    • jenyoon says:

      Lauren, I understand what you are saying. Like how I thought before taking this class, other people may stereotype against successful minorities/LGBTQ identifying people due to affirmative action. Or worse, companies/ colleges may choose you because of affirmative action and not through merit. Therefore, affirmative action is discriminatory.

      However, I think attributes like cultural background and sexual identity is something positive that you brings to the table. After all, college admissions is supposed to be a holistic process, one that not only looks at your academics but how you are as a person. Isn’t the fact you are a minority/woman/LGBTQ a very important part of who you are? If colleges and companies took that part out, every applicant would just be a number. I certainly don’t want to be at a place that only sees me as a number.

      Also, I don’t think companies like Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch hire people because they want to be nice to everyone. This is an economically smart decision. They know that times are changing, and the present generation (therefore present clients) is more liberal and globally connected than ever. By hiring a diversity of applicants, they can attract a diversity of clients.

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