ASAE issued a statement this week opposing legislation advanced on March 10 by the Florida legislature that would censor thoughtful considerations of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace.
Florida’s Stop WOKE Act includes provisions aimed at instruction in Florida classrooms but would also directly apply to corporate DEI trainings, as well as to certifications (where necessary for employment or engaging in a profession) offered by associations and private certification organizations. Under the legislation, corporations, associations, or other organizations requiring “as a condition of employment, membership, certification” DEI training or adherence to a code of conduct that includes DEI principles, for example, could be subjected to a lawsuit as a civil rights violation if these programs do not comply with the state-specified ideology that disregards the possibility of historic bias.
“Beyond the immediate implications for Florida workplaces and for national associations with members or employees in the state, this legislation is regressive and sets back society in our collective quest for progress on issues that plague this nation,” ASAE said in its statement. “Successful 21st century organizations understand the value of creating an inclusive culture, and attention to DEI values provides important tools to help employees and others communicate and understand each other and become more aware of unconscious bias and other barriers to effective teamwork.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis has not yet signed the bill but he has made his support clear for months. Last week, DeSantis said there was “zero” chance he would back down due to pressure from “woke corporations.” According to the Washington Post, DeSantis recently accused corporations of shoving diversity training “down people’s throats.”
“I also want Florida to be known as a brick wall against all things ‘woke,’” DeSantis said. “This is where ‘woke’ goes to die.”
ASAE’s general counsel firm Pillsbury LLP issued a client alert on the Stop WOKE Act this week that covers some practical implications for corporations, associations and other organizations to consider.