My name is Nancy E. Archuleta, the Chairman, Chief executive Officer and Owner of MEVATEC Corporation located in Huntsville, Alabama. MEVATEC is predominately a science and engineering company that provides high-technology goods and services to the Federal Government, as well as the commercial sector. I am currently the Chairman of the Latin American Management Association (LAMA), a national organization representing not only Hispanics, but women and other minorities as well. LAMA's predominant goal is to promote business opportunities for minority firms by establishing advocacy support networks designed to enhance contracting opportunities, legislative policy, and general business understanding.
It is with great pride and commitment, that I offer you my testimony on Affirmative Action, not only as it pertains to MAVATEC as a business, but as it pertains to the diverse cultures that are representative of this great nation. I would like to begin by addressing the fact that much press has been given to the subject of Affirmative Action which has sadly become a wedge issue with little or no regard to its founding principles. It would be quite easy and possibly convenient to focus merely on particular numbers and data revolving around this heated issue, but to do so would limit my ability to offer any type of realistic constructive input. With this in mind, I hope to provide you with a synopsis of thoughts and recommendations.
The Affirmative Action laws were originally designed to provide assistance to both minorities and women, by establishing requirements for utilization of same. At that time the laws were basically looked at to address social issues that would remedy past discrimination. However, since its inception Affirmative Action has become a strong factor effecting the economic stability of our nation . Many organizations, LAMA included, will always advocate for higher numbers in employment and contracting opportunities for minorities and women. It should be noted that we recognize that such programs have been central to the economic development in our given communities and while we recognize that they must be streamlined and enhanced, we applaud the accomplishments of these programs. It would be a travesty to hinder these programs on the basis that they are finally proving successful.
Although the statistics show that we still have not reached parity, programs such as Affirmative Action and the Small Business 8(a) Program have definitely assisted in "leveling" the playing field. In a recent article written in NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE titled "Holes in the Glass Ceiling", it states that women have seen an incline of nearly 7% in the number of senior level positions over the last two years which in itself is admirable, People need to realize that with this incline, the number of women and minorities combined still only represent 5% of the senior level positions within the Fortune 1000 companies. Again, progress is good. but far from complete. As I mentioned before, this issue is not a social issue but rather one of simple economics as evidenced by the fact that there are now approximately 65 million female-owned firms, that employ more people than all of the Fortune 500 firms combined. This should not be viewed as reverse discrimination toward males, but simply a program that works for a change which has in turn created economic diversity.
On the issue of minority-owned firms, it should be noted that these type of firms generally employ more minorities than do their big business counterparts. This fact alone indicates that minorities are assisting in the decline of welfare support, by putting people to work that are normally overlooked in the hiring process. Again is this a social issue, or one of economics? I could go on and on with additional data and figures that would support Affirmative Action and set-aside programs, however, that data is public knowledge and we can choose to either look at it for what its worth, or for what we are politically inclined to accept.
Today, my testimony is based on the impact of affirmative action in my company and I agree that the one hundred and fifty-nine Affirmative Action laws is excessive. As a business governed by those laws, I can attest to the cumbersome regulations and the implied quotas such as those mandated in Executive Order 11246. The spirit of these laws is necessary, but the regulations and implementation are negative to everyone concerned. I wholeheartedly endorse Senator Robert Dole's remarks to the Congress on 15 March 1995, in which he stated, "lets remember that to raise questions of Affirmative Action is not to challenge our anti-discrimination laws...Unfortunately, America is not the color-blind society we would like it to be. Discrimination continues to be an undeniable part of American life." if we are to make Affirmative Action work, we must make the rules far mole user friendly. Today, non-compliance can result in the loss of a government contract to a company even if that company has done everything possible to comply with the law. this is very threatening businesses.
In my business I have found that diversity contributes to the bottom line. This has also been attested to by others both large and small. As a recipient of opportunities provided by the SBA Section 8(a) Program, I can attest to the fact that if it were not for that opportunity, I would not be here today testifying as an accomplished example of laws that work.
I appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today and would like to close by asking the committee to review the regulatory process associated with implementing actions that are needed. We can not and must not lose sight of the fact that there still exists widespread marketplace discrimination against minorities and women, especially African Americans and Hispanic Americans and that Business Development Opportunity Programs should not be viewed as social programs. These Business Development Programs result in tax and employment creation. It is a difficult issue, but I implore you to seek to do what is morally and ethically correct and move beyond what may be politically expedient.