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ACEC News / Advocacy

October 14, 2020

Federal Contractors Join in Opposition to Executive Order that Bars Certain Diversity and Inclusion Training

ACEC joined with members of the federal contracting community this week in a letter to President Trump raising numerous concerns and objections to Executive Order 13950 – Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.

Issued on September 22, the Executive Order (E.O.) sets forth the policy of the United States “not to promote race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating” and prohibits federal contractors from inculcating such views in their employees in workplace diversity and inclusion trainings.

The letter states: “The E.O. seeks to identify specific concepts that would be prohibited, but the description of these concepts leaves considerable ambiguity as to what content would not be permitted in diversity and inclusiveness (D&I) training.  Furthermore, there is a great deal of subjectivity around how certain content would be perceived by different individuals.  For example, the definition of “divisive concepts” creates many gray areas and will likely result in multiple different interpretations. Because the ultimate threat of debarment is a possible consequence, we have heard from some companies that they are suspending all D&I training.  This outcome is contrary to the E.O.’s stated purpose, but an understandable reaction given companies’ lack of clear guidance. Thus, the E.O. is already having a broadly chilling effect on legitimate and valuable D&I training companies use to foster inclusive workplaces, help with talent recruitment, and remain competitive in a country with a wide range of different cultures.

“We believe the E.O. will create confusion and uncertainty, lead to non-meritorious investigations, and hinder the ability of employers to implement critical programs to promote diversity and combat discrimination in the workplace.  We urge you to withdraw the Executive Order and work with the business community on an approach that would support appropriate workplace training programs.”

Click here to view the letter.


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