President Trump, former vice president Biden and moderator Chris Wallace at the first presidential debate 9/29/20 image from video capture

Workforce

Trump defends decision to end diversity training

A recent move by the Trump administration to aggressively police the content of race and diversity training curricula at federal agencies became fodder for Tuesday's chaotic presidential debate.

In several memos and an executive order, the Trump administration announced an effort to purge training curricula of concepts like "critical race theory," "white privilege" and "unconscious bias." The crackdown extends to how federal contractors train their own private sector employees.

The move, reportedly sparked by a segment on Fox News about critical race theory that caught the president's attention, has left federal managers rushing to cancel and revise trainings so they aren't caught short by the new policy – which threatens adverse career consequences to individuals who let proscribed trainings take place.

"I ended it because it's racist," Trump said in response to a question from moderator Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday. Trump added: "They were teaching people that our country is a horrible place, it's a racist place. And they were teaching people to hate our country. And I'm not gonna allow that to happen."

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, countered saying, "Nobody's doing that…he's the racist."

Biden defended the practice of diversity training, which is commonplace in federal agencies, saying, "The fact is that there is racial insensitivity. People have to be made aware of what other people feel like. What insults them, what is demeaning to them. It's important that people know."

According to a 2016 report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 36% of harassment complaints made by federal employees to the agency were about racism in the workplace and 44% alleged harassment based on sex.

House Democrats are pushing back on the policy changes.

"OMB's memorandum and President Trump's Executive Order exhibited a level of ignorance rarely seen at executive levels in government or the private sector," Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, led by Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) wrote in a Sept. 29 letter to Russell Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The letter noted a gap in the percentage of minorities in senior-level executive branch positions as compared to entry-level jobs. The same gap exists in the military between the officer corps and enlisted personnel.

The lawmakers are seeking guidance issued by OMB to agencies on how to implement the order and memoranda and details on training programs that have been reviewed for compliance. They also want information on which contracts and contractors are affected by any training change or cancellation and any plans for federal funds that are diverted from spending on such training.

Federal employees associations and unions have also protested the order.

"The memo from OMB calling upon agencies to cancel and/or divert federal funds from anti-racism training at a time when our nation’s people are yearning for more open and honest conversations about race is tone deaf at best and disgraceful at worst," Chad Hooper, president of the Federal Managers Association and an IRS employee, said in a statement earlier this month.

Reader comments

Wed, Oct 14, 2020

This "diversity training" is NOT about diversity. Is not even training! Is about preconditioning people and shifting the perceived scales from one side to the other. And is all partisan towards the Left.

Wed, Oct 7, 2020

At one organization a world class bigot spewed garbage about being repressed and not taken seriously. She sued the agency and won a big sum of money and still continued to represent an illiterate misinformed bigot.

Tue, Oct 6, 2020

Chris grow up and understand bigots are every where and have representatives in all races and creeds.

Sat, Oct 3, 2020

I have 30 years know the entire aspect from pre computerized, post computerized and logistics still cannot meet the most qualified even with a Master's degree while my younger counterparts cone to me for assistance and expertise because they neither cared to learn the job nor wanted to stay long enough to correctly process their job functions. So racism and sexism are the reasons I have yet to be promoted. Mind you when agency deadlines and quality reviews are up for assessment I am the one expected to take on additional time constraints projects to make the whites look good but never rewarded. I do not have to pat myself because my work speaks volumes. So yes racism and sensitivity classes are needed.

Fri, Oct 2, 2020 Anonymous DHHS

Just attend a session yesterday for the Latinx community. "what about us, what about now'. I could just burst at the seams w/frustration. We all have our pains - some more than others. I'm sure many can attest to that. I can. Pain doesn't discriminate based on the color of ones shell. What I have learned thru all this, is we all have way more similarities than differences. That I am sick & tired of the caucasion community being targeted at the only folks accused of everything. That is pure BS. If you want to move on to bigger, brighter, & better, than it is your choice to do so. As in our own lives, we all make the choice to forgive those who trespass against us or NOT.

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