Trump’s target on diversity and inclusion trainings already has organizations holding off on executing them

trump day US President Donald Trump departs a rally at Dayton International Airport in Dayton, Ohio September 21, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
  • Experts said the Trump administration’s messaging around diversity and inclusion training is stoking “white resentment” and “white grievances” ahead of the November election.
  • President Trump’s recent executive order prohibits federal workforce, uniformed services, government contractors, and federal grants from being used to promote “race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating.”
  • The order criticizes diversity training that includes messages that racism “is interwoven into every fabric of America,” and the acknowledgment of white male privilege.
  • Following Trump’s order, the Justice Department reportedly suspended all diversity and inclusion training for staff. The University of Iowa also reportedly paused diversity and inclusion training with a fear of “loss of federal funding.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Organizations and institutions across the US are halting diversity initiatives in fear of the consequences of violating an order from President Trump. 

In late September, Trump issued an executive order prohibiting employees of the federal workforce and uniformed services from promoting “race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating,” which the administration defines as “assigning fault, blame, or bias to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex because of their race or sex.”

The executive order also prohibits government contractors from diversity training that argues “meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist,” or attributes “privileges” to a certain race or sex. It prohibits federal grant funds from being used for these initiatives that the administration defines as promoting “race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating.”

This week the Justice Department suspended diversity and inclusion training for its staff, the San Francisco Chronicle first reported. According to an internal memo circulated in the DOJ reviewed by The New York Times, the Justice Department said that managers “must remove all diversity-related mandatory training requirements that have been assigned to employees” and ” must suspend any related activities and events until materials can be approved by the Office of Personnel Management.” The Justice Department did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on Saturday.  

Outside of Trump’s administration, the University of Iowa, a flagship state university receiving federal funding, paused two weeks of diversity and inclusion training and programming following the executive order, according to The Gazette.  The interim associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion said in a message to the university’s leadership that “given the seriousness of the penalties for non-compliance with the order, which include the loss of federal funding” they are pausing the training and events that could be in violation, according to The Gazette. The University of Iowa did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. 

Meanwhile, Microsoft doubled down on its diversity commitments. The company disclosed Tuesday that while they were contacted by the Department of Labor on whether their diversity initiatives violate employment laws against discrimination, it has “every confidence that Microsoft’s diversity initiative complies fully with all US employment laws.”

Experts fear that the president’s order will jeopardize diversity and hiring initiatives that have seen progress in recent years.

Daniel Abrahams, an employment attorney and public contracting expert, told the AP that Trump’s executive order is reversing a 1965 order for equal employment opportunity to what would now be “an instrument of white grievances.”

In the executive order, Trump cites that “many people are pushing a different vision of America” that is “rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country.” It criticizes diversity training that includes messages such as “White people, regardless of how ‘woke’ they are, contribute to racism,” or racism “is interwoven into every fabric of America.” 

Judd Deere, a spokesperson for the White House, did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on this matter. 

Trump’s conservative base has embraced the messaging of the executive order as they “are skeptical about the national reckoning over racism and how it continues to affect day-to-day life for many Americans,” the Wall Street Journal reported. In a July WSJ/NBC News poll, only 30% of Republicans agreed that American society is racist.

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