Invidious contempt – the conviction that representatives of other sexual or race groups are generally inferior and do not deserve equal treatment.
Discrimination – an act of distinguishing between the individuals basing not on their individual qualities (merit), but rather on prejudiced opinion against group sharing certain unrelated to merit traits.
Affirmative action program – programs focused on elimination of negative consequences of past discriminative actions.
Institutionalized discrimination – unfair treatment of individuals or group of individuals continually sanctioned by organizations such as government, corporations, financial and educational institutions etc. Such unjust practices are usually predetermined in organizations’ policies and objectives, with race, gender, sexual orientation, age and nationality being the most widespread criteria for discrimination.
Reverse discrimination – discrimination against the majority groups and in favor of historically discriminated groups with the principal aim to eliminate the consequences of past discrimination (tangent to affirmative action programs).
Comparable pay – a program that aims to achieve higher salaries for jobs that are mostly taken buy women, as opposed to a program that aims to achieve more women on highly paid positions.
There are three main categories of arguments against racial and sex discrimination: i) utilitarian, ii) rights and iii) justice. In general terms, utilitarian argument claims that discrimination leads to inefficient production outcomes and negatively impacts economic development. If an employer makes a recruitment decision on the basis of gender or racial prejudgments not fully focusing (or even ignoring) merits, the decision is very likely to be far from optimal. Economic theory suggests that even if there is a predisposition against certain group on the labor market and firms tacitly agree not to hire its members, for a profit maximizing firm “cheating” and hiring one, if he or she possesses superior skills, would be a dominant strategy, unless the agreement is legally enforced and potential punishment exceeds potential gain from cheating. Thus, according to economic theory, the problem of discrimination should have been eliminated quickly. The issue, unfortunately, is more complicated, for people are very rarely born with merits. Skills are being acquired through training, and depriving minority groups from training in the first place would disable them to compete in the labor market. For instance, in sports, where one can acquire skills on him- or herself, the African Americans had been always creating temptation for teams to hire them even in the end of 19th century, despite strong prejudgments against them in then society, and there is common agreement that sports contributed to battle against racism significantly
Human rights refer to inherent rights of human beings held by them simply because they were born humans. While the argument is obvious for a person who treats all the human beings equally, people who discriminate may easily dismiss it on the grounds that they do not treat those who they discriminate against as equal humans. While this argument seems legitimate and is well understood by each relatively open minded individual, it can hardly persuade one to stop discriminating as it does nothing but claims that something is incorrect, while discriminating person believes that it is correct. The same applies to the third argument, which states that discrimination is bad because it contributes to unjust distribution of welfare in the society. Again, what is fair for one is unfair for another, and one would be hardly persuaded against discrimination with this argument. In fact, these two arguments are good enough to be presented to children, whose personality is being shaped, but, in my opinion, they have little chance to influence the attitude of those who discriminate already.
In fact, the utilitarian argument states that discriminating inefficient (unless it is price discrimination), while human rights and justice argument claim that this unfair. While the former one appeals to analytical thinking, the latter two appeal to emotions and beliefs and are unlikely to influence once whose beliefs are strong.
Another good reason not to discriminate, in my opinion, is safety. People generally do not like to be discriminated against and when there is a group of such individuals they may start resistance. Evil begets evil, and people either protest in an organized way against discrimination, or, when they are deprived of decent training and job opportunities, impose social costs by committing crimes, as opportunity cost – performing a lawful job – becomes insignificant. As a result, discrimination leads to more conflicts and to more crime.
Finally, discrimination takes a form of self-fulfilling prophecy to some extent: those who are biased against certain groups (believing that the members are inferior simply because the belong to the group) deprive them of opportunities, and, having had no opportunities to succeed the discriminated ones indeed turn out to be inferior, which does not verify the theory of discriminators about the inferiority of discriminated ones. In fact, the only way to prove that, for instance, African Americans are inferior is to give them equal opportunities (in full sense – including education and training), and if they fail, they are indeed inferior. And should discrimination stop for a while, it becomes apparent that discrimination had had no grounds and it gradually disappears – I believe, this is exactly what has been happening during past century.