On Jan. 20, within the first few hours of his administration, President Joe Biden signed the “Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” which states that the government has as a responsibility to affirmatively advance “equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity.” This executive order requires federal agencies to assess “systemic barriers to opportunities and benefits for people of color and underserved groups” in order to develop policies and programs to address such inequities. It also revoked executive orders issued by former President Donald Trump that prohibited certain types of diversity and inclusion training and promoted “patriotic education.”
The prompt action taken in issuing this executive order is an unmistakable sign that the Biden administration will seek to implement and enforce progressive policies in the realm of diversity, equity and inclusion. We have already seen Biden follow up on campaign promises to ensure diversity from the top down. Specifically, according to a Brookings Institution study, Biden’s Cabinet is equivalent with Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton in terms of non-white Cabinet appointments, but includes more women than his six predecessors, in addition to several historic appointments, such as U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, who, if confirmed, will be the first Native American Cabinet secretary.
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