Willard Mitt may not have realized it but at the 2nd Presidential debate, he demonstrated his past (and presumably) present support of Affirmative Action for hiring. Follow me below the visual representation of Rmoney explaining a policy position two days in a row:
While dodging the question that was actually asked, Mittens gave the following answer:
ROMNEY: Thank you. And important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.Many conservatives and unfortunately even some progressives portray Affirmative Action as some type of quota system. You've seen the arguments:
And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, "How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men." They said, "Well, these are the people that have the qualifications." And I said, "Well, gosh, can't we — can't we find some — some women that are also qualified?"
ROMNEY: And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.
I went to a number of women's groups and said, "Can you help us find folks," and they brought us whole binders full of women.
"It's reverse discrimination"
"Why can't [insert underrepresented minority] compete like everyone else?
"Standards are being lowered to let [insert underrepresented minority] in"
"It's not faaaaaiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrr"
Contrary to the above misguided sentiments, Affirmative Action programs I've encountered work similarly to what was described by Rmoney**. These programs recognize that either through tradition or other historical barriers, some jobs have very little diversity when it comes to race or gender. Not only might this apply to women in executive positions, women in the automotive field, Blacks as veterinarians, etc. but it can also apply to situations like men in nursing (especially in the past).
What an effective program can do is expose underrepresented groups to the field in question. This could be done short term and long term. Short term means advertising your job openings to a wider audience. Make an effort to send it to women's organizations, Black fraternities and sororities, non English media, etc. Longer term can mean sponsoring a mentoring program in underprivileged schools, offering internships, or doing any number of things to open your field to people who may not otherwise be exposed.
Another way to widen the number of people eligible for a particular position is to periodically examine the job requirements. Does a person in 2012 really need to be able to lift 100 pounds or is that a relic of how a job may have done in the past? Do you need to type 60 words per minute? Maybe now a physically disabled person could use voice activation software.
Most of these solutions are not quick fixes. In fact, it would be easier to just rely on some statistical formula or demographic study and dole out the jobs accordingly. What most people in favor of Affirmative Action want is equal access and a fair chance to compete. Mitt's binder full of women is just the sort of effort that can pay dividends to both potential employer and employee. Now that Mitt has endorsed Affirmative Action, I'm sure his wingnut cohorts will soon follow suit.