Executive Order 11246: Implications for Asian Americans

What is Executive Order 11246? Executive Order (EO) 11246 (see, e.g., http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Executive_Order_11246) was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on 9/24/65 that required Equal Employment Opportunity. The Order states that “It is the policy of the Government of the United States to provide equal opportunity in Federal employment for all qualified persons, to prohibit discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, or national origin, and to promote the full realization of equal employment opportunity through a positive, continuing program in each executive department and agency. The policy of equal opportunity applies to every aspect of Federal employment policy and practice.” The Order requires similar equal employment opportunity with respect to federal contractors and subcontractors, as well as any federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, who do over $10,000 in Government business in one year. All such contractors and subcontractors are forbidden to discriminate in employment decisions on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin.

Furthermore, the Order also requires contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” With respect to the federal government, the Order states that the head of each executive department or agency should be responsible for enforcing this Order, under the supervision and guidance of the Civil Service Commission. With respect to federal contractors and subcontractors, as well as federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, the Order states that the Secretary of Labor should be responsible for enforcing this Order.

It is important to note that EO 11246 emphasizes “the full realization of equal employment opportunity.” This means that equal employment opportunity should be provided in hiring, as well as promotion to all levels of management. There should not be any glass ceiling barrier.

The non-discrimination categories of race, creed, color, or national origin were later extended via subsequent Executive Orders to include also sex, handicap, and age.

Consequences of EO 11246: During the past 40+ plus years since the signing of EO 11246, a lot of progress has been made on equal employment opportunity for essentially all non-discrimination categories, especially with respect to the categories of race and sex, although much more progress is still needed on all fronts. However, progress is especially slow for the category of Asian Americans in promotion to management ranks. This is best illustrated by the following chart prepared by 80-20 (http://www.80-20initiative.net), an organization dedicated to winning equal opportunity and justice for all Asian Americans. The chart by 80-20 has compiled statistics not only from the federal government, but also from private industries and universities. These three segments employ a total of about 2.1 million Asian Americans.

The above chart clearly shows that relative to the national average or other major affirmative action groups, Asian Americans have significantly smaller chances of being promoted to the management level in private industries, universities, and federal government.  For Asian Americans, the major barrier to equal employment opportunity is not the opportunity to be hired, but the opportunity to be promoted.

Implications for Asian Americans:  80-20 has repeatedly brought this to the attention of President Bush’s Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.  Senator Tom Carper, the U.S. Senator from Delaware, has also raised this issue to the Secretary of Labor.  Unfortunately nothing positive has been done by the Secretary of Labor, except trying to say that 80-20’s statistical analysis is not quite valid, in spite of the fact that the statistics shown in their reply to Senator Carper also supports the conclusion of the above chart.  Furthermore, Ron Edwards, the statistics expert from the federal government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), has told 80-20 on 4/12/06 that “Your calculations [to arrive at the chart’s conclusions] are consistent with mine.”

The significantly lower probability of promotion to management level is even more puzzling considering that Asian American as a group has higher educational training.  Furthermore, as pointed out by 80-20, of the graduates with a master degree in business (including MBA), the largest percentage among minority groups of such graduates belongs to the Asian American group.  Of the graduates with a bachelor degree in business or a doctoral degree in business, the second largest percentage of such graduates belongs to the Asian American group, just slightly behind the African American group.

It seems that the only explanation of the Secretary of Labor’s reluctance to take actions to correct a long-standing issue of non-equal employment opportunity that should be the responsibility of the Secretary of Labor as mandated under EO 11246 is that she doesn’t want to take any action that might not be consistent with the prevailing atmosphere and approach of her boss, President Bush.

Another example of lack of equal employment opportunity for Asian Americans is the lack of appointment (by the President of the U.S.) to U.S. federal judgeships.  There are 875 federal judges, but only six (or 0.7%) are Asian Americans (10.7% are African Americans and 6.5% are Hispanic Americans).  Relative to the 4.5% of the population that are Asian Americans, there should be 39 Asian American federal judges.  It is important to note that there is a more-than-adequate supply of qualified Asian American lawyers.  In 2002, in law firms with 100 or more employees, the percentage who are Asian Americans were 5.3%, which is higher than 4.4% for African Americans and 2.9% for Hispanic Americans. 

For the many Asian Americans who have worked in private industries, government, and academics, they don’t really need any sophisticated statistical analysis to tell them what they already know and experience in their work environment.  But they do need such statistical analysis to try to convince others.  Unfortunately, even such clear-cut statistical analysis often still cannot overcome the power of political influence.  That is why 80-20 has been advocating a bloc-vote approach to achieve equal opportunity and justice for Asian Americans. 

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