In addition to changes in admission policies at universities, new workshops in education are beginning to address this issue head on, with teaching participants being taught that American history and education are both "written from the perspective of whites and that laws and policies benefit whites while putting minorities at an immediate disadvantage." (Fernandez, 1) This has helped to redirect the perspective on Affirmative Action within the profession, where institutions are beginning to espouse it as a legitimate means to balancing merit and racial fairness in both the admission of students and the courtship and hiring of teachers. A recent Supreme Court decision on student admission to the University of Michigan reflected this stance, offering real and applicable precedent that today reverberates in the collective movement to improve conditions for an ethnically diverse range of Americans.
In 2000, Gratz v Bollinger began the long process of defending the Constitutionality of Affirmative Action as a factor in shaping admission criteria for potential students. Under the premise that ethnic diversity could be considered a suitable goal for a university in selecting the members of its student body, a federal court found in favor of the University's reliance upon the practice. After being nullified the following year by a contrary decision in Grutter v Bollinger, then subsequently overturned once again on appeal, the University's policy was ultimately vindicated in the United States Supreme Court. In a landmark 5-4 decision, the highest court upheld "the University of Michigan Law School's policy, ruling that race can be one of many factors considered by colleges when selecting their students because it furthers 'a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.'" (Brunner, 1)
The Achievement Gap for African-American Men
The knowledge and skill acquired through formal business school educational courses may play a vital role in helping individuals develop realistic and achievable career advances. The study provided by Sui-Chu & Willms points to the achievement gap which stands as the theoretical basis for our research. This is because the study makes a direct connection between this gap and a factor which largely enters into all other discussions on the subject. According to the study, "perhaps the most enduring finding in the sociology of education is that schooling outcomes are related to the socioeconomic status of the children's parents." (Sui-Chu & Willms, 126) This is to suggest that this root factor should be a present consideration as we enter into a greater consideration of the racial implications of the achievement gap. Indeed, most of these racial implications are in some way connected to the correlations between socioeconomic status and race, validating efforts at using these correlations to adapt a strategy for change.
The study by Hedges & Nowell provides us with some empirical confirmation that there is an observable achievement gap between whites and other ethnic groups that can be demonstrated though academic testing. Proficiency monitoring shows a clear imbalance where those at the top of testing indices are concerned. As the Hedges & Nowell study reports, "about a third of the gap in test scores is accounted for by racial differences in social class, and although this gap appears to have narrowed since 1965, the rate at which it is narrowing seems to have decreased since 1972. The two groups are becoming more equal at the bottom of the test-score distribution, but at the top, blacks are hugely underrepresented and are approaching parity with whites slowly, if at all." (Hedges & Nowell, 111) This provides us with an indication that even with some sociological improvement, there has been considerable difficulty in providing minorities with the avenues to improvement that might facilitate their more equal representation at the higher ends of the scorings spectrum, suggesting an ongoing need for affirmative action programs.
Formal employment of African-American MBA Graduates
Regarding the professional environment, African-American students who attend graduate schools are more likely to receive promotions and career advancement when compared to other races (GAO, 2005, p.3). This is mainly attributable to affirmative action because although organizations hire African-American MBA graduates increasingly, they still constitute a small percentage of the total workforce in managerial positions (Pager et al. 2009, p.5). Consequently, in certain circumstances, some organizations just cooperate with set quotas, which specify particular numbers of qualified minority members that must fill in vacant positions. "For example, a university with a high proportion of Caucasian male faculty maybe required to fill half of its faculty vacancies with women and other minorities" (Chima & Wharton, 1999, p.6).
Organizations are deliberately reorganizing their internal mechanisms to facilitate affirmative action. Numerous organizations are proactively progressing to ensure the facilitation of affirmative action. Many organizations are committed to ensuring that African-Americans MBAs have sufficient representation in managerial and senior posts. According to Austin (2008), African-American men with graduate degrees "are hence more likely to be promoted than was the case in the early 1990s." (p. 6). By offering their commitment to affirmative action, organizations are examining possible ways in which minority groups can be properly represented. In the experimentation process, African-American MBAs will receive more promotions due to the fact that they are the minority group least represented in most organizations (Austin, p.6).
With the increasing number of African-American MBAs graduating and vying for work in the professional sphere, there has also been an increase in opportunity as most organizations seek to employ men from competitive schools due to the advanced skills and knowledge they possess (Dugan et al., 2003, p.13). African-American MBAs are therefore likely to benefit from affirmative action due to the strict code of conduct it enforces on the business community. Affirmative action should however be viewed as a benefit to the whole the business world, for it ensures the consideration of input from all members of society regardless of race (Roosevelt, 2004, p.10).
Organizations now show greater interest in promoting equality in hiring and promotion as well as reimbursement. According to Seltzer (1991), "internal racial job segregation is highly discouraged to allow for free interactions since unmonitored interactions in employment practices are more likely to produce discriminatory workplace practices" (p. 315). Organizations that rely on teamwork models will attempt to include members of all races in each of the teams. It is thus that senior management is encouraged to be accountable for all employees and that organizations diversify to ensure both racial fairness and unbiased performance. To this point, Leymann (1990) indicates that "racial discrimination is a learned behavior and is only tolerated in the environment it thrives" (p. 122). It is because of this that in the recent years, experts have insisted on the need for organizations to value diversity and diversity management.
Various organizations have set up mechanisms meant to handle internal affairs regarding racial discrimination. Employees are required to sign a contract establishing that they will not engage in discrimination, and they are to be penalized if found guilty. In the occurrence of such an incident, a given set of procedures has to be followed, which is initiated by the reporting of the matter to the proper Human Resource authorities (Landrine & Klonoff, 1996, p.145). Internal investigations would then be carried out to ascertain the validity of the accusation. Once the guilt of the employee in relation to discrimination has been established, the employee incurs either financial penalty or the loss of his or her job. Implementation of such stringent measures and precautions has safeguarded African-American men from possible discrimination. It is therefore more likely that African-American graduates will receive job offers according to their qualifications, and compete for promotions with members of other races in a fair manner (Turner & Struyk, 1991, p.5)
This helps to underscore the perceived imperative for a continued, if possibly refined, mode of Affirmative Action.
This research aims to answer the main research questions. These questions would be answered through the participation of already graduated African-Americans working and being successful in their respective business fields.
1. Would the elimination of Affirmative Action have a damaging impact on the ability of African-American men to gain access to MBA programs.
2. Can threats to curtail affirmative action admissions to institutions of higher education cause a widening of the achievement gap?
All the hypotheses for my research questions are in the affirmative side. The hypotheses of this study are:
H1: Affirmative Action has led to increased African-American enrollment in universities and MBA graduate programs, producing greater business success for African-American men.
H2: Threats to curtail affirmative action admissions will have the impact of widening the achievement gap between African-Americans and white Americans.
SIGNIFICANCE of the STUDY:
This research will contribute to the field of scholarly knowledge by availing research findings that distinctively underscore the key implications affirmative action has for the academic and professional development African-American MBAs. This study acknowledges previous studies focusing on affirmative action on a racial or academic scale; however, by paying close attention to African-American MBA graduates, this study will provide a unique perspective to the…