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How the New Executive Order Affects Federal Contractor Workplace Diversity Training

On September 22, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order titled “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping” (the EO) which prohibits federal contractors from conducting certain types of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I)  training, including training suggesting certain races or sexes are inherently biased, privileged or disadvantaged. The new federal contract requirements do not go into effect for 60 days, or until November 21, 2020.

Continued D&I efforts / Permissible Topics: 

The following are some D&I topics that are not prohibited by the EO and should continue to be included in trainings without any hesitation:  

  • The Company’s commitment to equal employment opportunities and creating a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment
  • The Company’s commitment to diversity and to fostering an inclusive environment where open dialogue is encouraged among our employees in order to create a stronger culture that is inclusive for all
  • The Company’s commitment to ensure racism or other forms of discrimination have no place in our company or communities
  • Equipping leaders with tools on how to be inclusive leaders of increasingly diverse teams
  • Continue uncomfortable conversations, and train employees on how to communicate in culturally appropriate and respectful ways
  • Valuing differences
  • Universal Unconscious Bias (the belief that everyone – regardless of their race or sex – may hold preconceptions, opinions, or stereotypes about others who are different from themselves that are formed outside of conscious awareness [distinguish from impermissible race- or gender-based unconscious bias below]) 


Impermissible Topics: 

The following D&I topics should be avoided in training under the EO.  

  • Critical Race Theory  (the position that white supremacy and racial power are maintained over time and that the law may play a role in this process)
  • White or Male Privilege (the notion that society generally benefits one race or gender)
  • Intersectionality (the theory that people are disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression such as race and gender)
  • Systemic Racism (a form of racism that is embedded as normal practice within society or an organization)
  • Positionality (how identity in terms of race and gender determine position within a social context)
  • Racial or Gender Humility (process of self-reflection and self-critique through examination of one’s own beliefs and identities)
  • Race- or Gender-Based Unconscious Bias (the belief that an individual, by virtue of his or her race, sex, and/or national origin, is inherently biased against others who don’t share those same characteristics)