The Human Rights Campaign has a sexist work environment

How ironic…or maybe it’s not, maybe it’s classic rather than ironic. Or both. Being marginalized doesn’t prevent the marginalized from marginalizing others, which is perhaps both ironic and classic. (Yes, that applies to me too. Yes, you alone among mortals are immune. Please sit down now.)

The Human Rights Campaign is a white guys club.

A new internal diversity report reveals the Human Rights Campaign has a sexist work environment where only ‘gay, white, male’ employees advance into leadership positions.

Well you see it’s like this – having a leadership position isn’t a human right.

Bullet dodged!

“As a woman, I feel excluded every day,” says an employee of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organization, in an internal diversity report released Wednesday.

The report was compiled by The Pipeline Project, and commissioned by HRC through focus groups and surveys with employees of the company. The report revealed that the organizational structure of HRC perpetuates sexism, while leaders have failed to establish a “real push for diversity,” which has created a “homogenous” leadership culture that is “gay, white, male.”

What could they do? It just turned out that all the really talented people were white and male. What could they possibly do about that??

A third of all staff in the report called HRC’s working environment is “exclusionary.” More than half of multiracial and Latino people, and 83 percent of genderqueer people working at HRC said they feel they are not treated equally based on their identity.

Straight women and lesbians experience sexist treatment from gay men.

Employees surveyed reported experiencing “femophobia,” where “feminine men and women are not considered as important [as more masculine staffers].” Another survey respondent claimed to have witnessed “visible misogyny,” which the staffer described as “cutting women off, [and] only addressing other white men.” The report notes that complaints about sexism and a “good old boy’s club” were cited 32 times in open-ended answers.

Now, working for an organization of that kind is bound to sharpen everyone’s perceptions of such things, so there could be some false positives, so to speak – or some debatable examples, or whatever you want to call them. That’s always possible, and it’s that much more so in organizations whose entire purpose is to do with equal rights and equal treatment. On the other hand if all the people at the top really are pale males, it’s hard to get that part wrong.

At an organization that claims to represent more than 1.5 million members, people of color, transgender staffers, and employees from a lower socioeconomic group claimed they faced institutionalized discrimination that played a part in their salary. Employees at the company claim that “a lot of folks are personally invested in diversity inclusion, but their voices have been smothered or pushed away.”

The report reveals an understanding that the way to succeed and advance in the company is to be a “young white gay male, who socializes with staff and especially senior staff.” Doing so ensures “there is a greater likelihood that you will advance sooner,” claimed one respondent. Another employee quoted in the report said they were discouraged from speaking up about such issues, because “raising concerns is not your job … Concerns are to be tasked by people who are more experienced, less radical, more conservative, more mainstream.”

Well, to some extent, yes. More experience is a valid criterion for many jobs, so you can see how that would play out.

Still, it’s interesting. Physician heal thyself etc etc.


  1. Jack D says

    The HRC has had issues in the past with how it treats trans people, especially trans women. I’m not surprised to hear about the hostile work environment or the white gay male-centric nature of it workplace, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about the people who have to put up with it.

  2. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Basically all of US Gay, Inc., has “issues” with anyone who is not a well-to-do white gay man.

  3. says

    This goes to show that without explicit diversity policies that are enforced, pretty much any organization will self-select its membership/employees/management in ways that are not ideal. Diversity just doesn’t seem to happen on its own.

  4. JoeBuddha says

    I think in this case, they may need to take a look at how HR in large corporations works. I’ve been a contractor for over ten years, and nowhere I’ve worked would ANY of this shit pass muster. The perps would be out the door before they knew what happened.

  5. JoeBuddha says

    (Of course, as a cisgendered white man, I may have missed something. I’d think I’d’ve noticed SOMETHING, though.)

  6. PatrickG says

    Basically all of US Gay, Inc., has “issues” with anyone who is not a well-to-do white gay man.

    That’s pretty clearly established by their ad pitches to me, via direct mail. I would add “slightly older” to that. Of course, that’s part of “well-to-do”, I suppose. Actually, that’s unfair, or incomplete. The remainder of the advertising is young white blonde lesbians, too.

    In any case, I have limited resources, and I decided a while back to donate to organizations that had a slightly broader focus. I should add that a major impetus behind that was reading bloggers and commenters here at FTB.

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