Special hiring authorities here refers to the agencies which can help organizations hire a more diverse workforce. Special hiring authorities represent marginalized job-seekers (like veterans or people with disabilities) who may face discrimination when going through the traditional hiring process.
When looking at the question of agency and morale of the job-seekers and other workers, there are—like most things—two sides to the coin.
On one hand, job-seekers represented by special hiring authorities can feel as though they’re being stripped of their agency. For example, they might feel that being singled out as needing special representation signals that they’re not actually good enough to be hired without that help.
They (and other members of the workforce) might also feel that they’ve been hired to fill what’s often referred to as a “diversity quota,” leading to resentment and low morale among both the job-seeker and other workers. Other workers might also believe that the existence of special hiring authorities is “unfair” or makes it easier for the represented to be hired than a “regular” worker.
On the other hand, special hiring authorities can also help marginalized populations feel as though they’ve finally gained agency over their working lives. As mentioned earlier, many marginalized people (like combat veterans or disabled people) have trouble finding work due to discrimination and stigma. Special hiring authorities can help job-seekers offset some of that discrimination by providing a level playing field and allowing candidates to show their skills and abilities without undue hardship.
The use of special hiring authorities can help boost worker morale, too, by demonstrating to employees that the hiring company or organization values diversity and individuality, and cares about creating a healthy and safe work environment for people of all backgrounds.