Continued from Part 1.

Black's Law Dictionary defines affirmative action as follows:

"When an employer must consider(link is external) employing any race or minority that applies for a job." 

Cornell School of Law defines affirmative action as follows:

"A set of procedures designed to eliminate(link is external) unlawful discriminationbetween applicants, remedy the results of such prior discrimination, and prevent such discrimination in the future.  Applicants may be seeking admission to an educational program or looking for professional employment."

If you're a member of the dominant culture, what personal experiences have you had with regard to such discrimination? What personal experiences have you had with regard to people's perceptions of your abilities based upon their assumptions that you may have had certain opportunities available to you only because of affirmative action? Irrespective, if the same opportunities were available to those who fall outside of the dominant culture, leadership positions within corporate structures would reflect such, which they don't. 

Affirmative action is a means of attempting to level the playing field, so to speak. Nobody and nothing is perfect, including policies designed to accomplish such a result. Is the answer that we shouldn't even attempt to level it? It also bears mentioning that it applies to "unlawful discrimination." What about those individuals who fall outside the dominant culture in categories for which discrimination is perfectly legal or might become legal in the future?

In any event, allow me to share my thoughts on other comments made in that Facebook discussion by other individuals who also appeared to fall within the dominant culture.

One said, "I think that we are only held back by our educationenvironmentand limiting beliefs. As long as there are no physical or mental blocks, we can change those things."

Who is the "we" in we can change "our education, environment and limiting beliefs"? How is it equal opportunity if we each have different experiences in that regard?

Another stated, "Those who grab oppertunity will succeed. Those who don't will fail."

Don't some people have more opportunities to grab than others? As such, how is it equal opportunity if "those who grab opportunity will succeed. Those who don't will fail"?

Also, why is it binary - either you succeed or fail? I know plenty of people who aren't successful and aren't failures. I guess it depends upon a person's definition of success and whether they have a Viking-or-Victim worldview(link is external).

Another commented, "People need to create their own opportunities."

Don't some people have more opportunity to create their own opportunities than others, as well as the type of such opportunities?

Yet another said, "Good companies an executives don't care about race or gender, they care about the bottom line and employee happiness."

I'm not quite sure how "good" is defined in that comment because what's good is a matter of opinion.

Irrespective, while research bears out that companies are more successful when their employees are happy, the remaineder of that comment is inconsistent with every piece of research I've seen. Interestingly enough, it's inconsistent for the same reasons that led to my publishing this particular article - having a variety of perspectives is invaluable. In fact, all of the research and information I've read on the subject is consistent with the following statement by Scott Page, a professor at the University of Michigan who studies diversity in complex systems:

"What we think of as ‘science problems’ affect everyone(link is external) — children, women, and men. What science decides to solve and for whom things are designed have a lot to do with who’s doing the scientific inquiry ... Amid growing signs that gender bias has affected research outcomes and damaged women’s health, there’s a new push to make science more relevant to them ... Analysts say that more women are needed in research to increase the range of inventions and breakthroughs that come from looking at problems differently than men typically do ... Involving more qualified women, as well as additional ‘social identities’ — gay people, African Americans and Latinos, those with physical disabilities, and others — can enrich the creativity and insight of research projects and increase the chances for true innovation."

Furthermore, the comment itself was binary in the sense that company executives either care about race or gender or about the bottom line and employee happiness. Why is it a binary choice? Why can't they consider all such things?

Meanwhile, another individual involved in the discussion said, "Opportunity maybe but everyone doesn't come to the table on equal footing."

Aren't some people excluded from even approaching the table itself or never being given opportunities that might have availed themselves for a seat at the table?

The final comment made in the discussion while I was still involved is as follows: "One reason there is not equal oppurtunity is because we are not created equal. Some smarter, some more athletic, some poor, some rich. We are born with an equal amount of only one thing. Integrity. Only we ourselves can diminish that. Its a shame some businesses have little or no integrity. To me thats what each of us should covet and protect most."

However, integrity is part of a person's character. In fact, the following is an excerpt from the Encyclopedia of Children's Health:

"A person's character continues to evolve throughout life, although much depends on inborn traits and early experiences. Character is also dependent on a person's moral development."

The perception that "perception is reality" is itself a perception. I'd recommend minding the empathy gap by gaining some perspective, which happens to be the core of empathy.  

Mark B. Baer, Esq. is a mediator, collaborative law practitioner, conflict resolution consultant, co-author of Putting Kids First in Divorce, and co-founder of Family Dynamics Assistance Center. He also regularly writes for the Huffington Post and Psychology Today.