In the summer of 2021, President Biden signed an executive order mandating sweeping actions that promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within the Federal Government.
The order, titled Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) in the Federal Workforce, was signed on June 25, 2021 and signaled a significant change in how the government views and addresses DEIA issues with the federal workforce.
A key element of the executive order was a requirement for all federal government agencies to offer diversity training to their employees.
While this is an encouraging step forward, there is a good deal of confusion about what is required and how HR leaders within government agencies should achieve the vision laid out in the text.
In this post, we’ll look at the order and explore the details behind the diversity training requirements.
What is Covered in the Order?
Executive Order 14035 has wide-ranging requirements related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility that touch nearly every aspect of the federal government.
In articulating the overall purpose of the requirements, the order states, “As the nation’s largest employer, the federal government must be a model for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, where all employees are treated with dignity and respect.”
Requirements include a detailed review and report on the staff of each agency. The purpose of the evaluation is to identify and obtain a count of underserved communities within the staff.
The order requires that a Chief Diversity Offer be established or elevated within the agency, so there is leadership focused on DE&I concerns.
There is a significant focus on pay equity throughout the order, and attention is given to the LGBTQ+ community to address inequality within that space.
The order also has a dedicated section that requires agencies to provide diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility training to employees, managers, and leadership.
As with private sector organizations, the Federal Government realizes that DE&I topics directly correlate with hiring and retaining quality staff. The order states offering diversity training will help agencies “strengthen the ability to recruit, hire, develop, promote, and retain our Nation’s talent and remove barriers to equal opportunity.”
Executive Order Diversity Training Requirements
Six months after President Biden signed Executive Order 14035 mandating DEIA training within federal agencies, many federal workers are still sorting out what is required and how to get started.
Section 9 of the Executive Order addresses the training requirement. It states, “The head of each agency shall take steps to implement or increase the availability and use of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility training programs for employees, managers, and leadership. Such training programs should enable Federal employees, managers, and leaders to have knowledge of systemic and institutional racism and bias against underserved communities, be supported in building skillsets to promote respectful and inclusive workplaces and eliminate workplace harassment, have knowledge of agency accessibility practices, and have increased understanding of implicit and unconscious bias.”
Following the release of the requirement, the Office Personnel Management has slowly rolled out guidance to clarify the type of training to offer and what requirements are included for the agency.
The most significant requirement is the reporting and data component of the training. While the details are still being worked out, the essence of the order is to establish a baseline and then measure the results after training has taken place.
Agencies that currently utilize free courses from the EEOC or cost-effective, “check-the-box” online options have to assess if these resources will meet the requirements. The training is mandated, but progress based on the training effort is what the federal government will be measuring.
Due to the emphasis on results, it is recommended that the training focus on knowledge retention and actual cultural change. Instructor-led or Virtual Instructor-Led courses are preferred to create better engagement and more lasting results within the agency staff.
What Not to Miss
The goal of Executive Order 14035 is not to simply require another task or report. The goal is to create real change and fundamentally shift how federal workers view diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility issues in government workplaces.
The rules do not require your workers to simply check a box and say they’ve sat through a pre-recorded video. There are reporting rules that require you to prove you’ve provided employees with quality training materials.
These requirements cannot be met with a last-minute online training push, and leaders tasked with meeting this requirement must give this issue attention today, so they are prepared. Further, in our view, the training must be designed not just to deliver information but to clearly identify and activate ongoing and lasting behavioral change back on the job.
Do not delay and count on quick, nearly-free options. It’s essential to use the resources you have available to, interview potential partners, and plan how to increase awareness as well as ongoing and sustainable actions around DEI issues for your leaders and team members.
Also, remember that the requirement has created downstream effects on training providers, and as with so many items today, there may be extra time needed to find the right provider.
Timing and Next Steps
After initially directing agencies to provide an assessment of their HR practices and where their workplace stands in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion, the next step in the process was taken by the OMB and OPM on November 24, 2021 with the release of the Government-Wide Strategic Plan to Advance Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, And Accessibility in the Federal Workforce.
This four-year DEIA strategic plan lays out methods for measuring success and provides a government-wide system that addresses reporting and implementation guidelines.
Now that the government-wide plan has been released by the OMB and OPM, we expect additional details for both the overall DEIA plans and the diversity training requirements.
The next critical day for agencies is in March of 2022. At that time, all federal agencies must submit their DEIA strategic plans that follow the guidelines.
ELI is Here to Help
While the timing and requirements of this executive order can be daunting, you do not have to go it alone. Funding has been provided with the requirement to meet the goal, and you can bring in outside assistance.
As noted above, DEI training is related to equal employment principles. ELI’s work has been recognized by the Equal Opportunity Commission for reducing harassment in the federal government part.
ELI has specialists who work exclusively with federal government training, and we are actively monitoring the requirements, reporting needs, and deadlines.
The training programs we offer meet the order guidelines and were crafted, from the ground up, to create lasting change and deep learning among federal workers.
Our programs such as Inclusion NOW will satisfy your training requirements while helping your workforce be more cohesive, communicate more effectively, and produce better results.
ELI clients who have previously used our Civil Treatment program will find that the DEI training materials reinforce the broader Civil Treatment models and philosophy which relates to equal employment matters referenced in the current Executive Order.
Best yet, ELI programs include the reporting requirements related to training, so you don’t have to worry about finding the data and compiling the information. We’ll do it for you!
Contact our team of government specialists today and learn more about how we can help you meet these requirements, or request a demo and learn how you can strengthen your department in the process. You’ll need time to get the training moving and starting early is the best way to make sure you are ready for the DEIA requirements.