TWS expresses concerns about new training guidance

By Laura Bies

The Wildlife Society is concerned about new federal policy that could limit U.S. agency efforts to increase diversity. Credit: Brett Billings/USFWS

The Wildlife Society wrote to the heads of the U.S Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management regarding recent guidance from the Trump administration that the Society is concerned will affect federal agencies’ efforts to promote and encourage diversity among their professional workforce.

Executive Order 13950 on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping issued on Sept. 22, 2020, along with three recent Memorandums for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies  issued in September and October, called on federal agencies to review all diversity and inclusion training to ensure it does not promote “offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating.” Agencies must review their training offerings and report back within 90 days.

“We urge the administration to reinforce its support for diversity, equity and inclusion among the federal workforce and lift these restrictions for federal employees, contractors and grant recipients from engagement in diversity and inclusion training,” said Jamila Blake, AWB®, professional development manager at The Wildlife Society. “Improving awareness of historic racial and gender relations and current workforce conditions enhances professionals’ ability to engage meaningfully in the conservation workforce and with the public to advance science-based conservation.”

The effect of the administration’s order and subsequent guidance has been to delay or cancel trainings related to diversity, equity, inclusion and other topics among Department of the Interior and other agencies.

The Society’s letter stressed that training focused on diversity, equity and inclusion is integral to expanding knowledge and understanding barriers, challenges and opportunities to create and sustain a welcoming professional culture. Promoting a professional culture that welcomes individuals from diverse backgrounds fosters a richness of perspectives, values, and contributions necessary for strengthening and improving our approaches to research, education, management and policy making.

The Wildlife Society is committed to recruitment, effective mentoring, retention of a diverse workforce, and to communicating with a diverse array of stakeholders. Through ongoing diversity initiatives, TWS has been working with partners and members to develop recommendations for increasing recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups. Society members and staff have developed resources and publications to further advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the wildlife profession.

Read TWS’ Standing Position on Workforce Diversity within the Wildlife Profession

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

Share your thoughts on this article, and others, on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages.