What is “full spectrum diversity” and how does it differ from affirmative action

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1. What is “full spectrum diversity” and how does it differ from affirmative action?

Affirmative Action is one aspect of the federal government’s effort to ensure equal employment opportunity for all its citizenry, but the policy has spilled from the employment arena to other sectors of the economy including education. Taylor (1991) defines it as specific steps beyond ending discriminatory practices that are taken to promote equal opportunity and ensure the end of discrimination. Moreover, Swain (1996) shared that Affirmative Action is a range of government and private initiatives that offer preferential treatment to members of designated racial and ethic minority group as a means of compensatory for the efforts of the past and present discrimination. He goes on to argue that it is a policy that advocates special efforts to hire people in disadvantage groups as a means of compensatory for past discriminatory practices.

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On the other hand, full spectrum diversity means that giving minorities the benefits beyond the Affirmative Action policies. Slack (1987) adhered that in securing a full spectrum of diversity in the workplace, attention is shifted away from affirmative action principles. He believed that internally based incentives will help to accomplish full spectrum diversity. Furthermore, Slack (1987) labels diversity as proactive and, affirmative action as reactive resolutions to cultural differences in the American workforce.

2. What are some examples of how assimilation has influenced one or more the groups in the workplace?

Historically, social commentators have used different metaphors to describe the relationship between diverse cultures in the United States. The “melting pot” was one of the first. Those who saw the United States as a melting pot emphasized assimilation, a process of socializing people so that they adopt dominant social norms and patterns of behavior. Assimilation attempted to make members of minority cultural groups “similar” to those belonging to the dominant cultural group—typically Whites of European descent.

By now, people have realized that assimilation had never totally worked and that there was no “melting pot,” as indicated by neighborhoods and groups that continued to speak their home languages, celebrate their unique cultural festivals, and maintain their cultural habits (such as eating certain foods). The contributions of different cultural and ethnic groups were increasingly recognized, and leaders began to realize that some educational practices aimed at assimilation were actually counterproductive. For example, in an effort to encourage speaking English, companies might not allow employees to speak Spanish, even on break time. With this, the workplace becomes a hostile place where people had to choose between family and friends, and school. This policy probably did as much to alienate Hispanic people as it did to encourage English language development.

3. In your opinion, are stereotypes in the media assisting or detracting from the cause of diversity and/or assimilation? In your opinion, what is the effect of media portrayal on promoting diversity consciousness in the workplace?

            Right now, the media has toned down on having stereotypes and they had inculcated diversity as one of their considerations. In the past, the stereotypes that media portray is definitely detracting diversity because when a Black or Hispanic child sees a White woman being characterized as beautiful, they would think that because they are not White, they could not be beautiful. The media has a pivotal role in spreading the concept of diversity to people because it is a vehicle for information and knowledge. When media presents a wrong or inaccurate notion to people, this action could have a detrimental effect on the populace. By recognizing and accepting diversity, the media should communicate that all people are valued and represented accordingly. This is particularly important for cultural minorities, who sometimes feel alienated from society.

4. Are there stereotypic representations in the media that you believe should be changed? If so, how would you effect such a change in the media?

            Yes, there are still stereotypic media representations that need to be changed. For example, portraying criminals or terrorists as Arabs or African-American is very unfair. In advertisements, White models dominate the colored models. In defining people’s concept of beauty, colored people would want to become White because that is how the media presented a beautiful woman. I could effect some changes in the media by writing some complaints about some TV show, column or advertisements that are still espousing gender and racial stereotypes. Being the viewers, listeners and readers of the media, they should listen to what the public has to say.

5. Is there a value to reinforcing ethnocentrism? State the reasons for your view.

            I think there’s no value in reinforcing ethnocentrism because that only espouses reverse discrimination. What should be pushed forward is multiculturalism, which supports and respects other people’s origin and their culture. People should be educated on respecting each other and treating each other as their own equals. Multiculturalism is better because it is intended to ensure equity through representation by highlighting origins elsewhere. In celebrating our diversity, no ethnic origins will dominate because everyone treats each other as equals.


Slack, J.D (1987). From Affirmative Action to Full Spectrum Diversity in the American Workplace. Review of Public Personnel Administration. 17(4): 58-69.

Swain, C. (1996). Race versus Class: The New Affirmative Action Debate. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Taylor, B.R. (1991). Affirmative Action at Work: Law Politics and Ethics. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press

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