HR Policy Urges White House to Withdraw Antidiversity Executive Order as New Interpretations Released

October 02, 2020

The Association released a statement urging the White House to withdraw its Executive Order on Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping, asserting that “diversity and inclusion training and initiatives that promote eliminating unconscious bias play an important role in providing a workplace environment that provides equal opportunity for advancement for all employees.”

HR Policy’s statement is based on our principles of expanding representation of Black, Hispanic and other minority employees in the workplace.  It also reflects our consistent opposition to the use of federal contracting rules to achieve objectives unrelated to the execution of the contract. 

The EO prohibits federal contractors from providing training that violates the order, including where “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex,” among other prohibited conduct.

The Office of Management and Budget issued an interpretation of the EO and an earlier, similar directive to federal agencies.  The directive requires agencies to catalog and review the content of all diversity and inclusion training by their employees and outside contractors to make sure it does not violate the EO.

Specifically, the OMB Memo states that “Reviews of specific training curriculum materials can be supplemented by a broader keyword search of agency financial data and procurements for terms including, but not limited to: 'critical race theory,' 'white privilege,' 'intersectionality,' 'systemic racism,' 'positionality,' 'racial humility,' and 'unconscious bias,'" which "may help to identify the kinds of training prohibited by the E.O.”

OFCCP hotline set up and enforcement commences.  As required by the EO, the Labor Department’s Office of Contract Compliance Programs unveiled a phone number, website, and email address to receive complaints from employees of federal contractors who believe company training has violated the order.  Although the EO applies to new contracts entered into starting November 21, 2020, the agency states that a violation of the order may also violate existing federal contractor prohibitions on discrimination.