October 31, 2020

Exclusive: Tech coalition opposes Trump anti-racism training ban

A group of 11 technology, software and advertising organizations is calling on the Trump administration to rescind an executive order intended to stop federal agencies and contractors from conducting anti-racism trainings.

Catch up quick: The White House order describes its goal as “to combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating,” but its practical result is to ban diversity and inclusion programs, and critics have argued it will undermine progress toward reducing systemic racism in business, education and government.

What they’re saying: The letter sent Thursday to the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Department of Labor, organized by tech trade group the Information Technology Industry Council, is also signed by the Alliance for Digital Innovation, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, BSA | The Software Alliance, the Cybersecurity Coalition, the Entertainment Software Association, Internet Association, TechNet, NCTA – The Internet and Television Association, XR Association and the HR Policy Association.

  • The groups, which represent thousands of government contractors, say in the letter they will be directly affected by the executive order’s requirements to restrict existing diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
  • “This EO would undo progress made toward promoting racial equity and ensuring American businesses can attract the diverse talent they need to remain best-in-class,” the letter says.
  • “The EO appears to restrict certain types of training programs that seek to combat race or sex stereotyping. We simply do not agree that there is anything divisive about providing information that encourages our employees to treat all of their colleagues equally and with respect,” the groups write.

What’s happening: On Tuesday, Microsoft revealed the Labor Department was probing the company to determine whether its goal of increasing Black representation constitutes racial discrimination.

The big picture: Silicon Valley firms remain overwhelmingly white, and tech companies have been pledging to become more diverse.

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