WASHINGTON: The US State Department said on Sunday (Oct 25) it has suspended employee training programs related to diversity and inclusion, confirming a Reuters exclusive a day before, but affirmed its commitment to fostering a more diverse workplace.
An internal State Department cable obtained by Reuters on Saturday showed the temporary pause came after President Donald Trump's executive order a month ago, directing federal agencies to end programs deemed 'divisive' by the White House.
The executive order forbid the teaching by federal agencies of "divisive concepts" including that the United States is "fundamentally racist or sexist".
"As an Executive Branch Agency, the Department of State complies with all Executive Orders," a State Department spokesman said in an email.
"The EO requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to review diversity and inclusion trainings to ensure compliance, and the Department to ensure trainings, workshops, and forums do not contain "divisive concepts," he said.
He added that statutory trainings will not be affected.
The training suspension came less than two weeks before the Nov 3 US presidential election, in which the debate about racial injustice in the United States has been fuelled by police killings of Black Americans that sparked nationwide protests over the summer.
During the first debate with his Democratic rival Joe Biden, Trump defended his executive order saying the training programs were teaching people "very bad ideas".