The Labor Department will reportedly be cracking down on companies that keep qualified white workers out of positions that they are qualified for as part of a 55-year-old presidential order.
Last week, companies such as Microsoft and Wells Fargo received letters from the government warning them against using any discriminatory practices to meet their diversity goals.
Microsoft General Counsel Dev Stahlkopf said: “The letter asked us to prove that the actions we are taking to improve opportunities are not illegal race-based decisions. Emphatically, they are not.”
Microsoft also took the opportunity to defend its plans to boost black leadership roles in the company. In June, CEO Satya Nadella stated that they planned to double the number of black people in managerial positions and senior leadership.
The CEO of Wells Fargo, Charles Scharf, made a similar promise, vowing to double black leadership in this company over the next five years. Scharf said at the time that top managers would be evaluated with making progress toward that goal in mind. The Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs' Director, Craig Leen, said that his statement “appears to imply that employment action is being taken based on race.”
Leen reiterated that government contractors are barred from discrimination based on color or race to give certain groups greater opportunities and that “quotas are expressly forbidden.” He also asked Wells Fargo to present documentation proving that its plans to enhance racial diversity are not discriminatory.
These moves could well have a big impact on hiring processes as federal contractors currently employ around 1 out of every 4 American workers.
The new executive order will also apply to educational institutions that get federal funding. The University of Iowa has already suspended diversity efforts there in response, stating that the serious penalties for non-compliance, which include a loss of federal funding, were behind the decision.
In addition, President Trump has ordered the Labor Department to set up a hotline that will investigate complaints about anti-racism training sessions that paint white people in a bad light.
Some trade groups representing companies in the pharmaceutical and tech industries have protested the order, saying that it restricts free speech and stunts efforts in the private sector to fight against systemic racism.
A 1965 directive from President Johnson set rules that ban companies who contract with the federal government from using discriminatory practices.
Trump also recently banned the use of critical race theory sessions in federal agencies, which claims that racism is systemic in the country’s workforce. It espouses such ideas as all white people contribute to racism and believing America is the land of opportunity is also racist.
The order outlawed teaching divisive concepts, such as the idea that a particular race or sex is superior, that the U.S. is fundamentally racist, or that anyone should bear responsibility for actions taken in the past by others of their same sex or race.
Of course, forcing minorities into positions for which they are not qualified does not really do them any favors in the long run, never mind the fact that it simply does not make good business sense to pass up the most qualified applicants in order to meet some kind of racial quota.
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