Race Bias #32 - "Caste Effects of Preferences"

Below are excerpts from an article in the Wall Street Journal by Clint Bolick dealing with the effects of affirmative action race preferences.

The question is - Do these preferences increase employment among the average minority group member?

The answer, apparently is - no!

However, the integrationist researchers cited in Mr. Bolick's article did find that a small minority elite benefits from these policies.

So racial preferences fail to attain their publicly stated purpose but do succeed in fulfilling their real political purpose!

My - What a surprise!


Oct. 11, 1995 Wall Street Journal p A15

A Glimpse at Private-Sector Preference Policies

Rule of Law

Clint Bolick

That corporations engage in widespread race and gender preferences is one of the worst-kept secrets in America. Government regulations and lawsuits induce companies to adopt preferences, even though such policies themselves may violate the law, thereby prompting employers to keep quiet about their actual practices.

A recent study by two Temple University researchers affords a rare and revealing glimpse into the usually well-guarded realm of private-sector preference policies. The results, though cast by the authors as pro-affirmative action, are in fact the latest example of the real world throwing a dose of cold reality upon race-based social engineering.

Published in the June issue of the Academy of Management Journal, the study examines the motivations and the effects of "identity-conscious" (formal consideration of race and gender) and "identity-blind" (merit-based) personnel policies. By promising confidentiality, Alison M. Konrad and Frank Linnehan gained access to the personnel practices of 138 companies based in the Philadelphia area, running the gamut from large and small manufacturing firms to banks, hotels, colleges and retailers. Extensive surveys were completed by the firms' top personnel officials.

The study found that although companies adopted formal identity-blind policies without government pressure, identity- conscious policies were adopted as a result of federal contracting regulations, compliance reviews or litigation. Indeed, say the authors, these coercive inducements are so influential that in their absence "organizations might not develop any identity-conscious structures beyond those already in place." This, Ms. Konrad and Mr. Linnehan conclude, underscores "the importance of regulation for the imposition and inducement of unpopular organizational change . "

The bombshell comes when the authors explore the results of identity-conscious policies. Though government "intervention consistently resulted in the development of identity-conscious structures," the authors found, "such intervention did not consistently result in improvement in the employment status of protected groups."

It turns out that corporate preferences, like other race-based policies, concentrate their benefits on people at the top while doing little to expand the pool of qualified applicants. Companies with identity-conscious personnel policies, the authors found, had at least one woman at a higher rank and more minority managers than companies with identity-blind policies. But the study found no significant differences on four other measures: the rank of the highest-ranking minority officials, the percentage of women in management, and most notably, the overall percentage of minorities and women employed by the companies. Indeed, the study suggests that identity-blind practices are as (or more) likely to yield minority and women employees as identity-conscious policies. That minorities and women do just as well in a system that is blind to their group identity as in one that seeks to confer group preferences may be surprising to paternalistic policymakers. Yet race-neutral decision making was the goal of the original civil rights laws.

* * *

Mr. Bolick is litigation director at the Institute for Justice in Washington and author of "The Affirmative Action Fraud: Can the American Civil Rights Vision Be Restored?" soon out from the Cato Institute.

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