- President Joe Biden on his first day in office revoked the previous administration's executive order limiting certain diversity trainings. The executive order "Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government" signed Jan. 20 revoked an earlier order that curtailed trainings for federal agencies and contractors. Biden's order also requires all agencies to prioritize equity to create opportunities for communities that have been historically underserved, according to the document.
- Every federal agency is required to determine whether its policies "perpetuate systemic barriers to opportunities and benefits for people of color and other underserved groups," according to the order. The director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is required to work with agency leaders to identify best practices, "consistent with applicable law, to assist agencies in assessing equity with respect to race, ethnicity, religion, income, geography, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability," the order stated. Within six months of the order, the OMB director must deliver a report to the president describing best practices identified by the study and recommendations for implementation.
- The order also requires an assessment of whether government contracting and procurement opportunities are available on an equal basis to all eligible providers of goods and services. A working group will be created to examine federal data collection on diversity grounds.
Former President Donald Trump's executive order, which prohibited the teaching of "divisive concepts" in diversity training programs had a "chilling effect" on diversity and inclusion programs, experts said.
A federal judge issued a temporary, nationwide injunction Dec. 23 blocking Sections 4 and 5 of the order as it pertained to federal contractors. Organizations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged Trump to rescind the order; and The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) filed a separate lawsuit Oct. 29 against the Trump administration claiming the order was in violation of the First and Fifth amendments.
The order amounted to "state-ordered censorship, banning the mention of unconscious bias, sex discrimination, white privilege and topics that make people feel 'uncomfortable' from workplace training and resulting in termination of contracts for those who do not comply," LDF told HR Dive in an email Jan. 20. "Today's rescission of this unconstitutional executive order shows the direction this new administration is looking to move forward in with civil rights activists, litigators, and social justice organizations."
LDF had "every hope" Biden would rescind the order, Jin Hee Lee, senior deputy director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, told HR Dive in November. But the organization was prepared to proceed with litigation until the order was fully rescinded, Lee said.
Under Biden's executive order, The White House Domestic Policy Council, led by Susan Rice, will coordinate the efforts "to embed equity principles, policies, and approaches across the federal government," including "removing systemic barriers to and provide equal access," in coordination with the directors of the National Security Council and the National Economic Council, the document stated.