Business & Lobbying

Chamber of Commerce pushes back on Trump extending ban on racial discrimination training


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged President Trump to withdraw his executive order that extended his administration’s ban on race- and sex-based discrimination training to include federal contractors.

The Chamber, joined by more than 150 state and local chambers, trade associations and nonprofits, wrote a letter to Trump on Thursday, saying the order creates significant obstacles for employers. 

“Many of our members are federal contractors and subcontractors that will be covered by this E.O. As currently written, we believe the E.O. will create confusion and uncertainty, lead to non-meritorious investigations, and hinder the ability of employers to implement critical programs to promote diversity and combat discrimination in the workplace,” the groups wrote.

The executive order was issued on Sept. 22 and outlaws the teaching of “divisive concepts,” including the idea that one race or sex is superior, that the U.S. is fundamentally racist or sexist, that any individual should feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish” or physiological distress because of their race or sex or that an individual bears responsibility for past actions by others of the same race or sex. 

“The E.O. seeks to identify specific concepts that would be prohibited, but the description of these concepts leaves considerable ambiguity as to what content would not be permitted in diversity and inclusiveness (D&I) training. Furthermore, there is a great deal of subjectivity around how certain content would be perceived by different individuals,” the groups wrote. 

The groups asked Trump to work with the business and nonprofit communities on a new approach to training. Trump’s order applies to executive departments and agencies, the military, and federal contractors and grant recipients.

“[T]he E.O. is already having a broadly chilling effect on legitimate and valuable D&I training companies use to foster inclusive workplaces, help with talent recruitment, and remain competitive in a country with a wide range of different cultures,” they wrote.

The American Hospital Association also wrote a letter to Trump on Wednesday, calling for him to rescind the order. The group said it “would effectively reverse decades of progress in combating racial inequality.”

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