President Trump’s decision to extend a ban on what he calls “un-American and divisive” diversity training to federal contractors is scaring people in corporate America.
Many believe the White House’s ban on diversity training will deal a crippling blow to efforts to increase workplace equality and address race and gender disparities in offices across the country.
“The biggest challenge right now is the confusion, chaos and the uncertainty of not knowing what this means,” M.E. Hart, an attorney and diversity, equity and inclusion expert who runs training sessions for businesses and federal agencies, told USA Today. “My concern is that it will stop these efforts for months and may have a chilling effect on the momentum in businesses and organizations.”
The Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping states a contractor “shall not use any workplace training that inculcates in its employees any form of race or sex stereotyping or any form of race or sex scapegoating,” or risk having its contracts canceled.
The executive order on diversity training cites numerous appearances of Discovery Institute research fellow Christopher F. Rufo, who has appeared on Fox News several times. According to Rufo, Trump is waging a “one-man war” against critical race theory, the contention systemic racism and racial privilege are embedded in America’s legal and societal institutions. Minutes after the executive order announcement, Rufo wrote a post on Facebook praising the order.
VICTORY: Ten minutes ago, the President issued a full Executive Order abolishing critical race theory from the federal…
The executive order runs counter to most of the changes many large corporations have announced this summer following ongoing Black Lives Matter rallies and pressure to become more inclusive in stores and in corporate offices.
Adidas, Reebok, and other companies have promised to hire more minority workers in general and to put more minorities in corporate offices. Corporations in almost every sector from technology to corporate law are scrambling and reviewing diversity training materials to make sure they comply. Others are pausing training sessions until next month when the order takes effect.
However, behind the scenes, many in corporate America are readying themselves for a legal challenge to Trump’s executive orders.
“This is an incredible opportunity for the business and financial communities to push back against these obvious plays at white supremacy,” Aubrey Blanche, global head of equitable design and impact at high-tech firm Culture Amp told USA Today.
Government contract attorneys said contractors could lose out on significant deals if they violate the order on diversity training.
“This has caused quite a bit of curiosity, fear, and consternation amongst my clients,” Franklin Turner, a partner with law firm McCarter & English told USA Today. “Companies have an obligation to ensure equality in terms of affirmative action requirements so most companies engage in this type of training to try to create an inclusive welcome environment for everybody.”