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Contrary to common belief, Affirmative Action is NOT about quotas

It all started with a dream….

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

It was 1964. The war in Vietnam had just started for America. Eight hundred students staged a sit-in at Berkeley to fight for their rights to Free Speech. Martin Luther King, Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in leading the non-violent resistance against racial prejudice and segregation in the United States. And the Civil Rights Act was signed into law.

It was a pivotal year in American history.

As part of the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was created. Today, this commission enforces Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination of individuals due to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender, identity and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information (aka Protected Classes).

But the EEOC was not enough to spark the change envisioned. There was still rampant discrimination across the country. To address this continuing problem, the Federal government decided to throw it's full-weight to push employers to swiftly comply with these laws the old-fashioned way: with money.

In 1977 the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) was created to ensure Federal contractor compliance. Contractors that weren't in compliance with the anti-discriminatory laws and suggested practices wouldn't get a government contract. It was simple, to the point, and extremely effective.

However, the OFCCP took anti-discrimination a step further – if companies wanted access to government money, they had to go beyond compliance with the laws enforced by the EEOC. Specifically, the OFCCP demanded affirmative action be taken to ensure that employment selection and employee treatment for everyone was fair, without regard to their protected class status.

Affirmative Action: Approach vs. Intent

Fast-forward to 2018: EEOC and OFCCP are now synonymous with Affirmative Action Plans. However, for most practitioners, their Affirmative Action plan is little more than actively hiring people because they are members of a protected class to meet internal percentage goals or quotas (for example, 30% women, 40% African American, etc.).

So, in an effort to create equality for all, many have instead ended up with controlled inequality in the form of quotas. This is a perfect example of following the letter of the law (Affirmative Action Plans) but completely missing its intent.

The Affirmative Action Plan was a means to an end; not the end.

Utilizing an Affirmative Action Plan was intended as an interim strategy to generate the right impetus needed to move the country forward on its journey to achieve the dream of equality for all.

The final destination is not quotas, it is implementing a candidate evaluation process - and workplace - that treats everyone equally and without bias.

The Future dreamt of is now at hand

There is hope; more and more tools are being introduced into the market that compartmentally address the bias issue in the workplace.

Professionals across a variety of industries are embracing the fact that living in a world where Talent Acquisition is hiring to quotas isn't creating the qualified diversified workforce these pieces of legislation originally envisioned. It is also increasingly apparent that merely ‘checking-the-box’ to increase diversity is bad for company culture, bad for the candidate experience and is ultimately reflective of an approach we should have evolved past nearly 5 decades after our country started down this pathway to equality.

Our approach at is to reinvent the candidate evaluation process and provide something that is more holistic, using a truly blind evaluation process to evaluate candidates based on what they can do, and not their resume, age, gender, color of their skin, or any other irrelevant attribute.

We are proud to be part of a strong community of likeminded entrepreneurs who believe it’s time for the hiring process to evolve past quotas. Candidate evaluation is the first step towards creating a truly #NoBias professional world.




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