“Equal opportunity” may not be so impartial

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Kiara Blake-Knight, Columnist

When applying for a job, applicants will inevitably see or hear the phrase “we are an equal opportunity employer.” This is the statement that is seen on all job applications in reference to Affirmative Action, a policy that provides opportunities for education and employment to minorities. But if equal opportunity really “existed” within the company, why should race and gender ever matter when it comes to being qualified for a position? Unfortunately, it matters a lot.

I will now take this opportunity to dive a bit further into this statement to show the subtle inequality of this statement. Companies inform the applicants that acknowledging their race and gender is only for record keeping under federal law, which is a great way to make applicants feel secure. But keeping track of how many women and minorities a company hires does not benefit the applicant, but rather the corporation and the federal government.

Since history shows the love-hate relationship between the U.S. and minorities, companies feel as if they are being “equal” by giving minorities an opportunity to climb the corporate ladder. This is not a real opportunity. Instead, it is more of a quid pro quo, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” type of strategy for companies. Companies keep track of minorities and hire them get to fulfill their quotas, and women and minorities get to have jobs. See? Now everyone wins.

I feel that asking applicants to reveal their race and gender is more of an unequal opportunity than it is an equal opportunity. Race and gender should not be the deciding factor in one’s qualifications for a position, regardless of whether it has positive or negative intentions. These are two personal characteristics that have nothing to do with intelligence or job performance. These types of questions only give employers the opportunity to either accept or deny an applicant based upon their race and gender.

As an African-American, I have never been an advocate for affirmative action. I do not want to receive a position because of my skin color but rather due to my talents and abilities. These are the criterions that truly measure an applicant’s qualifications.

“We are an equal opportunity employer” is a flawed statement. It implies more inequality than it does equality. Race and gender should not be used to determine who will receive a job and who will not. Until this statement is removed from all job applications, there will never be an equal opportunity for anyone.