President Biden Issues Executive Order Addressing Sexism and Structural Racism, and Rescinding the Trump Administration’s Diversity Training Restrictions

Pullman & Comley - Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law

On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order entitled “On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”  The Executive Order initially recognizes that  “[e]ntrenched disparities in our laws and public policies, and in our public and private institutions, have often denied … equal opportunity to individuals and communities” and goes on to acknowledge that “[o]ur country faces converging economic, health and climate crises that have exposed and exacerbated inequities, while a historic movement for justice has highlighted the unbearable human costs of systemic racism.”  With this backdrop, President Biden has ordered that it is the policy of his Administration that the Federal Government “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”

The specifics of President Biden’s “comprehensive approach” are not set out in the Executive Order.  Instead, President Biden has directed all federal agencies to conduct an internal review and create plans to, among other things, “identify the best methods, consistent with applicable law, to assist agencies in assessing equity with respect to race, ethnicity, religion, income, geography, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability.”  Additionally, President Biden has ordered, that within 200 days of the date of the Executive Order, the head of each Federal agency undertake a review and report on, among other things, potential barriers that underserved communities and individuals may face to both “enrollment in and access to benefits and services in Federal programs,” and “taking advantage of agency procurement and contracting opportunities.”  Additionally, President Biden has ordered that within six months of the date of his Executive Order, the Director of OMB shall deliver a report to the President “describing the best practices identified by the study and, as appropriate, recommending approaches to expand use of those methods across the Federal Government.”  Stay tuned for future details and specifics on how these equity measures will be funded.

Lastly, President Biden’s Executive Order concludes with the revocation of former President Trump’s executive order, Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping, which prohibited federal contractors and grant recipients from conducting certain types of “divisive” diversity training that were labeled “anti-American.”  (See the below links to my previous blogs.) Federal contractors and grant recipients may now conduct diversity training that is supported by critical race theory, and addresses such topics as systemic racism, unconscious bias, and white privilege, without fear or concern of losing federal funding.  I end this piece with a shameless plug that should your company wish to offer Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training to employees, Pullman & Comley, LLC can provide such training tailored to your company’s needs.

*Executive Order Puts Federal Contractors and Grant Recipients on Notice: End “Divisive” Diversity Training or Risk Being Barred from Doing Business with the Federal Government | Working Together – Pullman & Comley LLC (pullcomblog.com)

*President Trump’s Ban on “Anti-American” Diversity Training Faces Two Legal Challenges | Working Together – Pullman & Comley LLC (pullcomblog.com)

*California Judge Halts President Trump’s Workplace Diversity Training Order | Working Together – Pullman & Comley LLC (pullcomblog.com)

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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