Discrimination and Affirmative Action

Discrimination refers to acting in a way that adversely or positively affects the individual acted upon. It can either be conscious or unconscious based on the available knowledge. Conscious discrimination is the act of discriminating in a case where the actor of the discriminatory action is aware that he/she is discriminating against the acted while unconscious discrimination involves discriminatory processes of which the actor is not aware.

Positive discrimination is beneficial to the action while negative discrimination harms the act. For example, hiring a friend based on friendship is positive while denying a woman a job based on gender or race is negative discrimination. Negative conscious discrimination denies individuals equal opportunity (Allen, 2003).

Affirmative action refers to policies that take issues of race, religion, gender, and national origin into consideration to benefit underprivileged and marginalized people. This is done to curb the effects of discrimination. The policy put in place to consider the underrepresented range from employment, education, public contracting, and health. The policies and initiatives are put in place to eliminate past and present discrimination of minorities and in most cases women.

Affirmative action is supposed to promote equal opportunity among all individuals irrespective of race, gender, or nationality. This allows the qualified personnel to work in their areas of expertise thereby leading to nation-building. Affirmative action can either through putting effort to recruit minorities without specific numerical targets being aimed or by putting effort in setting numerical goals that validate certain requirements. This means determining qualifications used to reliably measure performance and ability.

Bell and Hague (2003) contend that negative discrimination serves as a barrier to the advancement of minorities and therefore the issue of affirmative action arose because society accepts that there has been a history of discrimination caused by the existence of social injustice. These have led to different programs to encourage and promote equality among different people with different backgrounds. Some of the programs are targeted towards encouraging women and minorities participation.

Some of the programs include; the small business set aside program, which was facilitated by the Federal government to reserve a fair proportion of its total purchases and contracts for goods and services for purposes of encouraging the development of small businesses. The small businesses that competed for the contract, therefore, got the opportunity of supplying goods and services to the government at competitive and fair prices.

Also, there was Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) Certification Program that aimed at assisting small disadvantaged businesses. The business is disadvantaged in the essence that more than 51% of the entire business is owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Such firms were eligible for special bidding benefits; this increases their sub-contracting opportunities because of previously subjected to ethnic and cultural bias and impairment of their ability to compete in the free enterprise system because they have minimal capital and credit opportunities.

Of importance is the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). To qualify to be a service-disabled veteran-owned small business it must be owned by at least 51% of service-disabled individuals. The service-disabled veteran is a veteran who incurred the disability in line of duty in the U.S military service or air force.

In some cases, the government may award a contract on a basis when only one person or company can provide the contractual services needed. The subsequent attempts to obtain bids will therefore mean that only one person or company is available to meet or avail the good or service needed.

By 13 C.F.R. 125.19 and 125.20, contracting officers may award a sole source or set aside to SDVOSBCs, if certain conditions are met. This occurs when it is in the public interest for a particular company or individual to provide a given service or good, it is only a specific company with concerns of national security at heart, because of an international agreement, when only one firm has the product that will meet the needs of the project, the need of urgency and for purposes of developed enlistment and proficient services. There are however suspicions that the sole source by some companies used illegal means to exclude competitors (Gilbert et al, 1999).

It is fair to award a government contract on a sole source bid to a qualified SDVOSB candidate, this is because the veterans suffered service-connected disabilities and the government has made it their moral obligation to provide the disabled veterans with a range of benefits that are meant to ease the economic and losses or disadvantages incurred as a consequence of serving their country. The gains are provided for in the laws of the U.S, it guarantees government assistance for entering the government contracting market. Besides the officers mandated to issue the contracts are allowed by the law to reserve some contracts to the disabled veterans. The sole source is done on basis of qualifications and the government’s interest in quality therefore it will go for a very qualified individual or firm. To ensure quality it is possible for any individual or company who is not satisfied with the choice of the service provider. The provision where the status of the SDVOSB can be challenged is that the small business administration may verify the eligibility of sole source procurements of the SDVOSB and it must provide the SBA with proof of qualification in terms of efficiency and proficiency.

The owners should also prove that the business is owned and operated by disabled veterans. The SBA on the other hand is mandated by the Federal Government to maintain and strengthen the economy of the nation through the establishment and viability of small businesses. It also helps in ensuring that certain federal contracts reach the woman and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses. This assists in equal economical recovery and upheaval.

It is fair also because SDVOSB allows joint ventures for purposes of performing the contract with dignity and efficiency. This guarantees quality because the different individuals or companies coming together have different skills, knowledge, and experience concerning the contract to be performed.

This program is not discriminative because it aims at encouraging and providing the disadvantaged and the minorities with opportunities. Previously such people were facing unfair competition and several other injustices, therefore the Government initiated this program to make up for the long period of oppression that denied the disadvantaged the opportunity to advance socially and economically (Muhl, 1999). This affirmative action tries to put an end to the oppression of the minorities, brings equality of liberty, and tries to eradicate discrimination by discriminating against the well-off who have for a long time taking advantage of the disadvantaged. It also seeks to reconcile the present with the future in a bid to promote positivity and love between the different groups.

In conclusion, discrimination is a vice that should not be encouraged in different social setups. This is because of the psychological, social, political, and economic effects. It leads to loss of self-worth, a sense of disaffection from the people, lack of political enthusiasm, and inequalities on basis of economic importance. It also poses a threat to peaceful coexistence among the disabled and the able. Discouragement of acts of discrimination, therefore, involves internalization of such acts starting from the smallest unit of relation-the family then progress to school and church.

This builds a positive attitude and fosters love among different individuals. It is therefore fair for the veteran disabled to be given sole source contracting because it tries to eradicate acts of inequality and encourages growth and development of self-worth because the veterans continue to feel their importance in continuing to build the nation irrespective of their physical status. The U.S government has shown effort in trying to eradicate prejudice and discrimination against the veteran disabled by promoting multicultural education, enlightening different policies like the SDVOSB.


Allen, R. (2003). Examining the implementation of affirmative action in law enforcement. Public Personnel Management, 32(3), 411.

Ball, C., & Hague, A. (2003). Diversity in religious practice: Implications of Islamic Values in the public Workplace. Public Personnel Management, 32(3), 315.

Gilbert, J.A., Stead, B.A., & Ivancevich, J.M. (1999). Diversity management: A new Organizational Paradigm. Journal of Business Ethics, 21(1), 61-76.

Muhl, C. J. (1999). Affirmative action requirements. Washington Monthly Labor Review, 122(1), 48.

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