The federal government holds contracts with about 200,000 establishments, and these contractors and subcontractors play an important role in making our country work. They provide food, clothing, energy, transportation, medical treatment and thousands of essential services all around the country.
As the director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, I oversee the agency that enforces laws that prohibit these employers from discriminating in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, status as a protected veteran or sex.
Today, we issued guidance clarifying that sex discrimination extends to gender identity and transgender status. This follows an announcement Secretary Perez made in June that the department is updating enforcement protocols and anti-discrimination guidance to clarify that we provide the full protection of the federal non-discrimination laws that we enforce to transgender individuals. And it follows President Obama’s signing of Executive Order 13672 adding sexual orientation and gender identity as independent categories protected by Executive Order 11246, which OFCCP enforces.
So what does this mean? It means honoring our commitment to upholding equality in America’s workforce. Being entrusted with taxpayer dollars is a privilege, and with that privilege comes a promise to open doors to all of America’s workers. I believe that success for OFCCP and for federal contractors isn’t simply about compliance. It’s about creating a workplace culture that actively embraces diversity.
Inclusiveness isn’t just good for workers; it’s smart for business. When employees can work without fear, when they can comfortably bring their whole selves to the job, companies benefit from the diverse perspectives and enthusiasm those workers bring to the job.
As Secretary Perez said in his June blog: “Our workforce and our entire economy are strongest when we embrace diversity to its fullest, and that means opening doors of opportunity to everyone and recognizing that the American Dream excludes no one.”
Patricia A. Shiu is the director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.