As leaders across the nonprofit sector are aware, the Trump Administration recently released its Executive Order on Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping. That the president chose this moment – in the midst of a health, racial, and economic crisis in the nation – may tell us something of the Executive Order’s intended audience. Many we have heard from have been reluctant to fan these particular flames and perhaps further cement a particular segment of the electorate.
But we also need to be clear-eyed about what this order, and other actions beginning to swirl around it, mean for a sector that is already struggling to survive among mounting deficits in their revenue streams. This is a new threat to put future government contracts and grants at risk for those organizations (government agencies, business, and nonprofits alike) that regularly train their staff on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. And it takes aim at those organizations that have racial equity at the center of how they advance their missions. That cannot stand.
We know that some government agencies are already cancelling their trainings, and countless business and nonprofits are unsure how to proceed in ways that are true to who they are and protect vital sources of revenue that allow them to do their work.
While litigation strategies are planned to take this almost certainly unconstitutional order to the courts, Independent Sector is working to respond in four core ways. We will discuss these IS responses later today with our Public Policy Committee.
First, we are working to make reliable and timely information about this EO available to the broad sector. Today we are sharing one such informational resource developed by our partners at Sheppard Mullin, legal counsel with deep expertise in our sector and a critical partner earlier this year in developing our CARES Act resources. You can find the EO FAQs here. On Thursday, October 29, we plan to offer a webinar on the status of the EO in partnership with Sheppard Mullin. Register here. We will also be sharing more information on letters emerging from across sectors (nonprofit and business) urging withdrawal of this EO.
Second, we are also working with Sheppard Mullin, for the next two months, to provide low-cost, direct counsel to those nonprofits that have questions about how this EO might impact them and their future plans regarding trainings and other related matters. This service will be made available for Independent Sector members in the near future.
Like partners in the infrastructure community, we are seeking to gather information from the field about trainings that are being cancelled or new language that might arise in government contract or grant negotiations. Data from the field will be critical as, together, we prepare to make the case for potential litigation. You can share anything you are seeing or hearing in your particular universe with us by sending an email.
Finally, Independent Sector will keep sector leaders apprised of litigation strategies as they become clear and offer suggestions around how we might best align with them, if appropriate.
For now, we think the guidance is to stay informed, stay focused on what you need to do, and be prepared for the twists and turns this might take in the weeks ahead. We will do all we can to make that as easy as possible.
Thanks for keeping engaged with us on yet another critical issue in the year 2020.