A new 30-page report consisting of surveys and interviews with employees from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the world’s largest LGBTQ organization, calls the HRC a “white men’s club” whose leadership regularly excludes women, “smothers and pushes away” diverse voices and “is judgmental of all those who don’t fit that mold.” The report seems to consider these problems fixable. Towards that end, the HRC has released a list of 18 solutions currently underway to address the HRC diversity problem.
The surveys and interviews included in the report were conducted by The Pipeline Project, an LGBTQ diversity consultant group. The HRC commissioned the Pipeline Project to do the research, though its findings were leaked to the press.
Some of the report’s most damning statements include an employee who said “Younger staff in particular are exploited and not rewarded financially.” Another staffer said, “Straight women and lesbians get sexist treatment from gay men at HRC.”
Later on, the report says, “More than half of multiracial and Latino people and 83% of genderqueer people feel they are not treated equally based on their identity.”
Trans employees in particular said that they weren’t comfortable coming out until they had worked at the HRC for years. Even still, trans HRC employees reported continuing to be misgendered with incorrect pronouns, even by the Human Resources department after repeated corrections.
Furthermore, employees said Human Resources was understaffed, lacks diversity and offers poor training for managers on how to handle trans employee concerns. Employees also said that hiring and promotion protocols were unclear, men and “favorites” are hired and promoted above others and the paltry $30,000 a year starting salary, which offers no paid time off, no paid sick days and no real way for people in debt to make their payments.
Most troubling, the report’s summary of employee survey findings states, “There is a general sense of feeling excluded from decision-making and a distrust or fear that if one brings up concerns, their sphere of influence becomes limited.” One employee in a focus group said managers and executives feel that “raising concerns is not your job and focus on your tasks. Concerns are to be tasked by people who are more experienced, less radical, more conservative, more mainstream.”
Despite these complaints, The Pipeline Project’s report noted that 75% of employees called the HRC a good place to work and many felt the organization could address the HRC diversity problem if the HRC would update, reconfigure and enact some of its diversity policies.
In response to the report, HRC Executive Director Chad Griffin released a public statement. In it he said, “Diversity and inclusion work is never an end, it’s always a journey and while it’s clear that we have a long way to go on that journey as an organization — and as a movement — the important and indisputable facts are that we realized the need for change, that we have done a significant amount of self-examination and reflection, and that we have put plans in place that are resulting in positive changes.”
So, to address the HRC diversity problem, the HRC outlined 18 steps including creating employee resource groups for trans, bi, female and employees of color, all of which report to an executive; salary increases throughout all employee tiers; re-training of all staff and human resources in diversity and trans issues; re-tweaking of documents and job postings to be more gender- and racially inclusive and a director-level position that will “focus on improving diversity and inclusion within the organization.”
Notably, the issues involving time off and promotions weren’t addressed in the HRC’s list of proposed fixes.