'It's already having a massive effect,' corporate America demands Trump rescind executive order on diversity
Michelle Kim received an email this week from a corporate client asking her to make sure her anti-racism talk complies with the new White House executive order, which prohibits the use of terms such as "white privilege". Instead, she offered to terminate the agreement.
"Even if I could deliver a compelling presentation without using the term, I might disagree with the spirit of the question," wrote Kim, author and CEO of Awaken, which offers interactive workshops on diversity, equity and inclusion, on Twitter. "I understand that companies are in a difficult position right now." Does this put us at legal risk? "" Are we being sued? "
President Trump's decision to prevent the federal government and its contractors from participating in what he calls "divisive" and "un-American" diversity training is having dire effects across America as companies step up their efforts to eradicate the Racial differences increased after death by George Floyd, a black man, under the knee of a white officer in Minneapolis in May.
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"It is already having a massive impact and will continue to have a massive impact until or when it is lifted," said Franklin Turner, partner at McCarter & English law firm, which represents multinational contractors and small and medium-sized businesses.
The declared aim of the Executive Ordinance is "to combat offensive and anti-American racial and sexual stereotypes and scapegoats".
A White House memo in late September suggested that "ideologies that describe entire groups of Americans as inherently racist or evil" be eradicated in diversity educational materials by searching for keywords such as "white privilege," "systemic racism," " Intersectionality "and" unconsciously "are sought."
Critics say the executive order is broadside against diversity and inclusion programs that will undermine corporate and government efforts to reverse decades of patterns of discrimination and exclusion. A study by USA TODAY found that more than 55 years after the Civil Rights Act, less than 2% of top executives in the country's largest companies are black.
Studies show that promoting diverse and inclusive jobs increases financial performance and increases innovation. However, companies are pulling out of fear of losing government contracts that are vital, if not the elixir of life, to their business, Turner said.
Behind the scenes, civil rights activists and industry groups are examining legal challenges to executive regulation, much like the organized opposition to the president's Muslim travel ban. These efforts are expected to intensify if Trump wins re-election.
“Proponents of the Executive Ordinance argue that it only prohibits racist or sexist doctrines so that one race or gender is inherently superior to another. However, the White House's interpretation of the arrangement's memo makes it clear that the intended impact is far wider, ”said Joelle Emerson, founder and chief executive of Paradigm for Diversity and Inclusion Strategies.
"The goal is clear: to prevent companies from delivering training on a wide variety of well-researched topics on diversity, equity and inclusion."
Push Back grows out of civil rights, industry groups
The recoil is growing from civil rights leaders and industrial groups. Dozens of civil rights groups, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, condemned the Executive Ordinance this week as another sign of Trump's "support for white supremacists, while demonstrating a deep hostility towards civil rights and racial justice . ""
On Thursday, a group of 11 tech, software and advertising industry groups representing thousands of state contractors called on the Trump administration to withdraw from the contract. The executive order "does not recognize the reality of persistent racial inequality and inequalities in America and is an unjustified interference with private sector efforts to combat systemic racism," read the letter sent to the Department of Administration and Labor and the Department of Labor .
President Donald Trump had his first presidential debate with Joe Biden in Cleveland.
"I need every company's legal team to put on seat belts and be ready to look for people willing to tell the truth to power," Kim said. "And I need executives who can signal to their teams that we are no longer in 'compliance' mode - we are on the 'right side of history'."
When asked about his executive order during the first presidential debate, Trump said, "They taught people that our country is a terrible place, it's a racist place. And they taught people to hate our country. And I won't allow. "
Democratic challenger Joe Biden replied, "Nobody does that."
Trump Order inspired by conservative activists
The order of the executive is based on appearances by conservative activist Christopher Rufo, who criticizes the "critical racial theory" in "Tucker Carlson Tonight" by Fox News. Critical racial theory teaches that racism permeates the government and other American institutions and gives whites an advantage.
"What I discovered is that critical racial theory has essentially become the standard ideology of the federal bureaucracy and is now being armed against the American people," said Rufo, director of the Center for Wealth and Poverty at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington, said on Carlson's show.
Rufo celebrated the achievement of his goal - "... convince the President of the United States to abolish critical racial theory in the federal government" - and posted on Facebook shortly after Trump gave the order.
The Trump administration is not just pushing against the belief that American society is inherently racist. It is also a challenge for companies to rebalance the balance by promoting more black and colored executives to leadership roles.
In the past few weeks, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which oversees federal contractors for the Department of Labor, has been questioning whether diversity initiatives at Microsoft and Wells Fargo to double the number of black managers and executives over the next five years are against Violate federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on race. Both companies believe their initiatives comply with these laws.
Companies fear losing government contracts
The guidelines issued by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs contain strict but vague requirements for compliance with Trump's executive order on diversity and inclusion training, which appear to cover essential and fundamental concepts, Turner said.
The agency has set up a hotline through which any individual or group can file a complaint against a government agency or a federal contractor for perceived violations by phone or email. Third parties can also file a complaint on behalf of an individual or a group, the guidelines say.
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"They're obviously inviting complaints and I wouldn't be shocked if the complaints came in," said Turner.
“The concern is that people who are in training that don't like some aspect of the training can use that order, even this guide, to cause problems because there are really no specific standards here, and because so much of it is so incredible subjective. "
Corporations could face "extremely harsh" penalties, Turner said. Failure to do so could result in their contracts being suspended or terminated and declared “ineligible” according to the guidelines for future contracts.
"The message is 'watch out'," said Turner. "Contractors don't take these threats lightly. They could potentially go out of business."
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Trump: Corporations Demand that President Revoke Order of Diversity Executive
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