Americans Say Affirmative Actions Has Been Good; Question Continuing

July 11, 2003 ( - While the majority of Americans do not doubt affirmative action policies giving women and minorities preferences in the workplace have had their benefits, many question when the practice should continue.

Sixty-three percent of Americans feel the preferential treatment has been good for society, compared to only 20% that said affirmative action practices have not been good. However, split right now in the middle are those in favor of (42%), and opposed to (42%), continuing preferences in the workplace, with 16% undecided or refusing to express an opinion, according to a survey conducted by the Employment Law Alliance.

Henry Perlowski, co-chair of the Employment Law Practice Team at Atlanta law firm Arnall Golden Gregory LLP, said in statement that the poll reflects “a widely held belief that affirmative action was a necessary step toward leveling the playing field for all employees.” However, “Americans are strongly divided as to whether the current workplace offers a level playing field, and whether affirmative action actually balances or tilts that playing field, ” he said.

Yet, the number of those that said they have personally benefited and those that were disadvantaged is surprisingly close. Overall, 17% said that they had personally benefited from affirmative action in their career; a group that tended to be non-white, low to middle income, and without post-high school education. By comparison, 15% said they had been personally disadvantaged by affirmative action in their career.

Supreme Ruling

The survey of 1,000 adults was conducted in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s recent decision, which authorized affirmative action in college admissions while also questioning its long-term necessity. When asked about the Supreme Court’s ruling:

  • 44% were opposed to the ruling
  • 36% approved of the decision
  • 20% responded to being undecided or expressing no opinion.

Speaking directly to college admissions processes, 58% believe that affirmative action involving college admission for minorities and women has been good for society, 23% believe it has not been good and 19% have no opinion or have not yet formed an opinion.

A copy of the complete survey and its results can be found at .