New Report Says the Human Rights Campaign is a “White Man’s Club.”

by Kathryn Hensch

The Human Rights Campaign is a civil rights organization whose entire purpose is to achieve equality for LGBTQ individuals. Reportedly, its office is home to the same exclusionary employment practices against which they fight. As one employee put it, “We are supposed to be fighting for people who are being discriminated against and marginalized, however we at HRC are discriminating against people and marginalizing people in the workplace.” The Pipeline Project did an extensive review of HRC’s workplace culture last fall. The report was recently released to Buzzfeed and the findings are shocking.

The office is called a “White Man’s Club” where “one of the most frequent concerns… was the sense of an organizational culture rooted in a white, masculine orientation which is judgmental of all those who don’t fit that mold.” Leadership is “experienced as homogenous — gay, white, male.” “White gay men have all the power in top roles,” the report states.

Women are treated as lesser employees. “Lesbian women are under-represented. Straight women and lesbians get sexist treatment from gay men at HRC,” the report states, “Seven out of 31 men who have been promoted have been on staff less than two years (some promoted two times). No women under two years have been promoted.” This extends to those who exhibit more feminine characteristics: “A judgmental working environment, particularly concerning women and feminine-identified individuals, was highlighted in survey responses.” “This is the most sexist organization I’ve ever worked for,” one employee remarked, “my voice as a woman is irrelevant and my voice as a woman is meaningless.” “As a woman, I feel excluded every day,” said another.

Trans/gender expansive people, who make up a measly 4.7% of staff, are horrifyingly disadvantaged and “work for years at HRC before coming out as trans.” The company’s mission statement says, “HRC Foundation envisions a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are ensured equality and embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.” Yet, trans people are mis-gendered, have only one gender-neutral bathroom accessible in the office, must follow a “male or female only” dress code, and are ”asked to be a part of a group, comment on an issue, or educate other staff because of their identity and not because it’s part of their job.” The report continues to say that “there’s a fine balance between never being asked and feeling relied upon to be the trans voice.” They are given a “lowered salary compared to those with privilege.”

People of Color experience lesser pay as well. “The leadership is all white,” the report finds, “there isn’t a single African-American in senior leadership. Neither is there a department head in the entire organization who is African-American.” “People of Color want to learn and give their perspective on various HRC initiatives,” said one staffer, “not just Heritage Month.” 70% of employees are Caucasian, while the rest is comprise of 7% Asian, 7% Hispanic, 13% African-American, and 3% multi-racial.

“There is still a great deal of sexism, racism, classism, ageism, and other biases in this organization,” one employee said, “this is true for many organizations across the country, but when you claim to be the largest LGBT non-profit in the nation, you may want to improve how you treat your employees and how much you honor intersectional identities.”

HRC has released a statement explaining the steps it has taken, and that will be taken soon, to create a better work environment. The list of changes they’ve made since The Pipeline Project’s findings can be viewed here. “Viewed alone, this report doesn’t reflect the entirety of our journey or our commitment to diversity,” President Chad Griffin stated, “We’re proud of the progress we’ve made and are fully committed to doing better.” It’s deplorable that the organization wasn’t practicing what it was preaching. We hope that conditions have improved through the aforementioned actions for those who were being discriminated against, and that the organization can soon stand as a real model for universal equality.

Image via MRCTV


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