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New Executive Order at Odds with Recent Citigroup Study on Discrimination Costs

In September 2020, Citigroup released the results of its recent study on the financial cost of racially discriminatory practices. The study found that if gaps for Blacks in wages, education, housing, and investment had been closed, $16 trillion likely would have been added to the American economy. If the U.S. could close those gaps quickly, an additional $5 trillion could be added in the next five years. In its report, Citigroup notes the “real costs of longstanding discrimination against minority groups” on our economy. In its report, the bank points to “attitudes and policies undermining equal access” as the cause of the racial gaps plaguing U.S. society.” The “persistence of racially-biased attitudes, coupled with the implementation and maintenance of policies enshrining these attitudes, constitute what is often termed as systemic racism. Biases may be conscious or unconscious.”

This study is seemingly at odds with recent action taken by the executive branch to preclude federal contractors from addressing many of the issues typically addressed in workplace training, including unconscious bias. The Executive Order “on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping” precludes workplace training that explores systemic racism, conscious or unconscious bias and related topics.

These changes would significantly impact the ability of federal employers and federal contractors to provide diversity and inclusion, sexual harassment, and related EEO training for employees designed to alter the systemic discrimination described by Citigroup.