President Biden has issued an executive order significantly expanding on diversity and inclusiveness initiatives in the federal workplace, both in terms of the areas of federal work that are affected and the individuals potentially affected.
“This order establishes that diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility are priorities for my Administration and benefit the entire federal government and the nation,” says the order issued June 25. It builds on an Obama administration order plus two orders and a memo issued by Biden himself in the early days of his administration on promoting diversity and preventing and responding to discrimination on grounds including gender identity or sexual orientation.
Unlike the prior orders which focused on certain demographic groups, the new order broadly affects policies for “underserved communities,” which it defines as:
· “communities of color, such as Black and African American, Hispanic and Latino, Native American, Alaska Native and Indigenous, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and North African persons.”
· “individuals who belong to communities that face discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity (including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, gender non-conforming, and non-binary (LGBTQ+) persons); persons who face discrimination based on pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions; parents; and caregivers.”
· “individuals who belong to communities that face discrimination based on their religion or disability; first-generation professionals or first-generation college students; individuals with limited English proficiency; immigrants; individuals who belong to communities that may face employment barriers based on older age or former incarceration; persons who live in rural areas; veterans and military spouses; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty, discrimination, or inequality.”
It tells OPM, along with OMB, EEOC and several other agencies to “reestablish” a government-wide initiative to promote diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce under the Obama order and to “expand its scope to specifically include equity and accessibility.”
That is to include issuing a new “Government-wide Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Strategic Plan” within 150 days to “define standards of success” of that effort; identify strategies to advance those principles; and identify and eliminate barriers to them in a wide range of aspects of federal employment. Those include recruitment, career development, benefits, disciplinary policies, accommodations for employees with disabilities, and much more.
That plan also is to include a new “comprehensive framework to address workplace harassment, including sexual harassment.”
Individual agencies meanwhile are to review over 100 days “the current state of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the agency’s human resources practices and workforce composition.” They are to assess the extent to which their practices “result in inequitable employment outcomes” and also assess the status of existing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility initiatives or programs.
Within 120 days of the government-wide plan’s issuance, agencies are to produce their own plans in compliance with it, along with quarterly goals and actions to carry them out, and expanding the demographic data they collect, including data that is “voluntarily self-reported.”