As predicted, just hours after taking office, President Biden revoked the controversial Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping Executive Order (the “Order”) issued by his predecessor in September. As previously reported, the Order, among other things, required new contracts entered into with the federal government to include a clause prohibiting federal contractors from including certain concepts in diversity and awareness trainings. The Order included a variety of penalties and sanctions for non-compliance, including debarment.
The Order was controversial from the start. Many viewed it as an effort to impede unconscious bias and societal privilege trainings that had become more prevalent in the wake of the country’s renewed focus on racial justice and equality. Lawsuits were filed to stop its enforcement, eventually resulting in one court issuing a preliminary injunction enjoining its enforcement in December.
In a statement issued prior to his inauguration, President Biden called the Order “damaging” and promised that in addition to revoking the Order, he would take “[a]dditional actions in the coming weeks will restore and reinvigorate the federal government’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.”
The new President is already making his mark in ways that directly affect the federal government contractor community, and more changes are clearly in store. For some predictions of what additional actions may be forthcoming, check out my presentation with Dr. Rick Holt of Resolution Economics from earlier this month recapping major OFCCP developments from 2020 and what we believe may be in store for 2021, available here.
And, as always, you can continue to rely on us to report on consequential developments impacting the federal government contractor community. Stay tuned for an eventful 2021.