President Trump released an Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping on September 22, 2020, giving federal employees instructions on diversity training. This controversial move left people confused, with many people claiming that President Trump canceled diversity and inclusion training altogether.
However, it does not ban diversity training. What it does ban is training that relies on "race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating."
The order goes into effect on November 21, 2020, for new federal contracts, which gave businesses 60 days to prepare. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) just released the guidelines for federal contractors. (These guidelines do not have the force of law, but clarify the impact of the executive order.)
If your business is a federal contractor, then your diversity training needs to stay within these guidelines, which means staying away from stereotyping and scapegoating. The OFCCP gives the following examples:
- One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex
- An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously
- An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex
- Members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex
- An individual's moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex
- An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex
- Any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex
- Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.
The order does not ban implicit bias or unconscious bias, but it does caution that such training needs "to inform workers, or foster discussion, about preconceptions, opinions, or stereotypes that people--regardless of their race or sex--may have regarding people who are different, which could influence a worker's conduct or speech and be perceived by others as offensive."
Don't take this new executive order as a reason to cancel all diversity and inclusion training, but make sure your training is compliant with the new regulations. Along with the new regulations, the OFCCP released information on how employees can file complaints if your training violates the executive order. If you have concerns about your training meeting the new standards, double check with your employment attorney.