How Affirmative Action Became Diversity Management: Employer Response to Antidiscrimination Law, 1961 to 1996

Erin L Kelly, Frank Dobbin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

282 Scopus citations

Abstract

How did corporate affirmative action programs become diversity programs? During the 1970s, active federal enforcement of equal employment opportunity (EEO) and affirmative action (AA) law, coupled with ambiguity about the terms of compliance, stimulated employers to hire antidiscrimination specialists to fashion EEO/AA programs. In the early 1980s, the Reagan administration curtailed enforcement, but as Philip Selznick's band of early institutionalists might have predicted, EEO/AA program practices had developed an organizational constituency in EEO/AA specialists and thus survived Reagan's enforcement cutbacks. As John Meyer's band of neoinstitutionalists might have predicted, that constituency collectively retheorized antidiscrimination practices through professional returns in terms of efficiency, using the rhetoric of diversity management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)960-984
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Volume41
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1998

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