Jessica Guynn
 
| USA TODAY
Corporate racism: Not enough Black executives in American businessesCompanies across the country have been speaking out against racism, but less than 2% of top executives at 50 largest companies are Black.USA TODAYThe Labor Department has suspended enforcement of Donald Trump’s executive order restricting diversity training by government agencies and contractors that the president labeled “divisive” and “un-American” after a federal court judge blocked it.Late last month U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman granted a preliminary nationwide injunction in a lawsuit filed by LGBT rights groups in the Northern District of California, saying the groups were likely to prevail on their First Amendment claims.“Plaintiffs have demonstrated a likelihood of success in proving violations of their constitutional rights,” Freeman wrote in a 34-page order. “Moreover, as the government itself acknowledges, the work Plaintiffs perform is extremely important to historically underserved communities.” In guidance issued by the Labor Department, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs will stop investigating any agency or contractor suspected of violating the executive order and will take no enforcement action. A hotline set up to collect complaints will no longer be used.Trump diversity training ban blocked: Donald Trump executive order banning diversity training blocked by federal judgeDemocrats call it a ‘political stunt’: Trump diversity training ban challenged by Senators Bob Menendez, and Elizabeth Warren“These actions are a welcome step toward undoing an Executive Order that fails to acknowledge the realities of systemic racism in America, fully undercuts companies’ efforts to promote a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workforce, and that was implemented contradicting all normal federal rulemaking processes,” Megan Petersen, senior director for policy, public sector and counsel at industry trade group ITI, said in a statement. “We’re encouraged by the initial responses from these federal agencies to the court’s preliminary injunction and we expect more agencies to follow suit.”Critics say Trump’s executive order was a broadside against diversity and inclusion programs seeking to reverse patterns of discrimination and exclusion going back decades. The incoming Joe Biden administration is widely expected to scrap it.Trump’s executive order, which affected government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, nonprofits and any others that have federal contracts or plan to apply for them, had an almost immediate chilling effect on reinvigorated efforts to address racial disparities in the workplace after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, under the knee of white officer in Minneapolis in May.A USA TODAY investigation found that more than 55 years after the Civil Rights Act, less than 2% of the top executives at the nation’s largest companies are Black.Trump executive order under fire from corporate America, DemocratsDemocrats had called on the federal government to back off the order, calling it a political stunt. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; and 18 other senators sent a letter opposing the implementation of the executive order, saying it stifles “much-needed efforts in our states to reduce racial and sex-based discrimination.”“We cannot as a nation expect to work towards and achieve equality without first acknowledging and addressing the biases that are deeply rooted in the fabric of this nation,” attorney Avatara Smith-Carrington who represented the LGBT groups in the November lawsuit, told USA TODAY last month.’It’s already having a massive effect’: Corporate America demands Trump rescind executive order on diversityBiden likely to dump Trump diversity ban: Biden administration likely to overturn Donald Trump diversity training executive orderThe executive order’s stated goal was “to combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating.”The Labor Department previously told USA TODAY the elimination of “race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating in employment” was “a key civil rights priority of the Trump Administration.”Trump diversity training ban faced other challenges Civil rights groups including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed another lawsuit in October alleging the executive order violates free speech rights in an “extraordinary and unprecedented act by the Trump administration to undermine efforts to foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace.”A White House memo in late September suggested rooting out “ideologies that label entire groups of Americans as inherently racist or evil” in diversity training materials by searching for keywords such as “white privilege,” “systemic racism,” “intersectionality” and “unconscious bias.”Asked about his executive order during the first presidential debate, Trump said: “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.”Biden responded, “Nobody’s doing that.”“The fact is that there is racial insensitivity,” he told Trump.Trump took aim at critical race theoryThe target of Trump’s executive order was critical race theory, which teaches that racism pervades government and other American institutions, giving white people an advantage.Trump seized on the issue following appearances by conservative activist Christopher Rufo on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.””What I’ve discovered is that critical race theory has become, in essence, the default ideology of the federal bureaucracy and is now being weaponized against the American people,” Rufo, director of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty in Seattle, said on Carlson’s show.Rufo celebrated achieving his goal – “persuading the President of the United States to abolish critical race theory in the federal government” – posting on Facebook moments after Trump issued the order. The Trump administration also challenged corporate efforts to recruit more Black executives and executives of color into leadership ranks.


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