Business groups nationwide complain about diversity training crackdown

U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters Washington DC. Shutterstock photo by By Polina LVT 

The Washington, D.C. headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Image credit: Polina LVT/

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce led a nationwide coalition of trade associations and business groups in a letter opposing the Trump administration's executive order on diversity and inclusion training.

The order and subsequent implementation memos looks to purge diversity training in the federal workplace of concepts deemed by the administration to be "divisive." The order extends to federal contractors – the requirements kick in for private sector contractors on Nov. 21, 2020, according to the Department of Labor.

The ambiguity of the order is leading some companies to cancel all diversity and inclusion training, the Oct. 15 letter states, because companies are concerned about the consequences of complying with the confusing requirements of the new policy, including debarment.

The order "is already having a broadly chilling effect on legitimate and valuable [diversity and inclusion] training companies use to foster inclusive workplaces, help with talent recruitment, and remain competitive in a country with a wide range of different cultures," the letter states.

The letter complains of multiple areas of confusion in the implementation of the order. A hotline established by Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) encourages contract employees to report violations of the new policy, but, the letter notes that OFCCP doesn't distinguish between the curricula being taught in such trainings and comments made by training participants.

"Things heard in these discussions could easily form the basis of a complaint even though they are not part of the official course materials," the letter states.

The letter also states that the executive order on training "is silent with respect to how multi-national companies that are federal contractors should proceed regarding training for their employees outside the U.S.," where local laws may requires such training.

Signatories to the letter include the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Beverage Association and the Software & Information Industry Association. A coalition representing technology trade associations sent a letter on Oct. 8 objecting to the crackdown on diversity training.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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