On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order reversing President Trump’s restrictions on diversity training in federal agencies. The Trump administration published a Memorandum on September 4, 2020, instructing federal agencies to stop conducting diversity trainings focused on critical race theory and white privilege. The administration requested that all agencies begin diverting Federal dollars away from diversity training initiatives and cancel outstanding contracts with diversity training companies. The memorandum prompted the U.S. Justice Department, State Department, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Veteran Affairs to cancel diversity and inclusion training programs.
The President’s new order has directly rescinded these restrictions on diversity training and mandated that all government agencies promote diversity in their policymaking endeavors. Most notably, the Executive Order calls on each federal agency to assess whether there are barriers to underserved communities accessing their services, identify the means to assess inequity, and allocate agency resources in ways that promote fairness and diversity.
Though this Executive Order is only legally applicable to federal agencies, its message and challenge apply to companies in the private sector as well. As we begin a new fiscal year, consider taking the time to analyze how your business’s structure, services, and policies either promote or hinder diversity, both within and outside of the workplace. What systems are available for employees to voice concerns or give praise for progress? Are there initiatives in place to engage clients and partners whose missions align with your business’s diversity-related goals? Consider meeting with your executive team this Quarter to assess your business’s goals for diversity and inclusion and how you plan to reach them. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this article published by SocialChorus that identifies 15 ways to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace.