The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy and lobbying group in the United States. Chances are you’ve seen their equal sign stickers on cars before. They built their name by pushing for the legalization of gay marriage, a worthy cause to be sure, but their internal operations don’t quite live up to their message of equality.
A recent report by The Pipeline Project surveyed a number of HRC employees, and the results weren’t all that favorable. They found that there is a definite feeling that the HRC is a “white gay men’s club,” with leadership positions being held almost exclusively by gay white men. Employees claim that advancement is significantly easier if you fall into that group, and that everyone else is held back. Women, gay or straight, have faced sexism from their male colleagues, and trans staff members frequently feel tokenized. And at this point, there’s been no real effort to move toward diversity–the voices of concerned staffers are often silenced, even by the HR department, who urge them to keep their mouths shut and let more conservative people handle it.
HRC leadership has, of course, claimed that they are working to address the problems, but it seems painfully ironic that such problems exist in the first place. Diversity is important to any organization, non-profits included. Diverse employees and especially leadership gives an organization a wellspring of ideas and motivations to keep them working on problems that existing solutions cannot solve.
But more so, as a group that purports to fight for equality, HRC hasn’t been putting their money where their mouth is. Problems like this are part of why there needs to be more oversight of non-profits and charities in the US. If the HRC were more accountable, it’s possible that these issues would have come to light and been solved sooner. In the meantime, hopefully they learn from this report and start embracing the diversity and equality that they claim to fight for.