How To Become A Member Of A Protected Class
I was first introduced to the concept of a Protected Class, and the power of Affirmative Action, as a young engineer at Bell Labs in the late 1970s. Not long before I joined the company, AT&T signed a consent decree with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that obligated the country’s then-largest private employer to hit specific goals and timetables for hiring women in traditionally male jobs, men in traditionally female jobs, and minorities in jobs in which they had been traditionally underrepresented. This consent decree became a template for subsequent Affirmative Action programs that exist to this day in employment, education, housing, banking, and other sectors of our economy.
To get the largely white male engineers at Bell Labs to accommodate themselves to the program, the company required us to attend what became known as “white male guilt sessions,” where a paid professional activist would berate us for our sins. Not our sins, actually — after all, most of us were fresh out of school — but past sins of people who looked like us, not against the women and minorities employed alongside us, but against people who looked like them in days gone by.
To read the rest of the column click here.