As a continuation of an order given last week to all Federal Agencies, on September 22, 2020, the president issued an Executive Order (EO) that applies to executive departments and agencies (agencies), Uniformed Services, Federal contractors, and Federal grant recipients.
This EO is aimed at combatting what is perceived to be training that is “pushing a different vision of America that is grounded in hierarchies based on collective social and political identities rather than in the inherent and equal dignity of every person as an individual. This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans.”
The EO states that training employees to create an inclusive workplace is appropriate, but goes on to infer that many organizations, within their training, may be promoting stereotyping or scapegoating. The order concludes by stating “therefore, it shall be the policy of the United States not to promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating in the Federal workforce or in the Uniformed Services, and not to allow grant funds to be used for these purposes. In addition, Federal contractors will not be permitted to inculcate such views in their employees.”
Additionally, the EO mandates that agency heads assign “at least one senior political appointee responsibility for ensuring compliance with the requirements of this order. Also stating, that the agency inspector general will “thoroughly review and assess by the end of the calendar year, and not less than annually thereafter, agency compliance with the requirements of this order in the form of a report submitted to OMB.”
Within 30 days of the order, OFCCP is tasked with publishing in the Federal Register a request for information seeking from Federal contractors, subcontractors, and employees of contractors information regarding the training, workshops, or similar programming provided to employees. It’s interesting that the request applies to “employees” of contractors.
One more thing of importance is that the EO directs the Attorney General to assess the extent to which workplace training that teaches the “divisive” concepts outlined in the EO may contribute to a hostile work environment and give rise to potential liability under Title VII. That would be a significant development and could mean that those contractors that are delivering unconscious bias training are in violation of Title VII. What if this training or similar training are required under state or local law? To be determined.
So what does this mean for Federal Contractors? Contractors will need to take a hard look at current diversity/inclusion, unconscious bias training an d ensure that it remains neutral and not pointed.
As this story develops we will continue to keep you apprised. This is not the time to discontinue diversity and inclusion training, it is just a time to revisit and encourage the content.
By DCI Consulting Group