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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 12, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 24
HRC is a 'white men's club' report says
Group admits to problems, promises to change
Section One
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HRC is a 'white men's club' report says
Group admits to problems, promises to change

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

HRC has been branded a 'white men's club' by a fact-finding report that the group itself commissioned.

In a four-page public response, HRC admitted it had serious internal problems, but promised to change.

The report, commissioned by HRC after bitter complaints by the group's staff, was based on focus groups and interviews with HRC staffers conducted by outside consultants The Pipeline Project.

It was prepared last fall, released to HRC early this year, leaked to BuzzFeed News, and made public on June 2. HRC issued its response on June 3.

According to the report, 'Leadership culture is experienced as homogeneous - gay, white, male. Exclusion was broad-based and hit all identity groups within HRC.

'A judgmental working environment, particularly concerning women and feminine-identified individuals, was highlighted in survey responses.

'Trans* people are frequently misgendered with the wrong pronouns, after repeated corrections. Straight women and lesbians get sexist treatment from gay men at HRC.

'Younger staff in particular are exploited and not rewarded financially.

'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.'

While HRC does have diversity policies in place, the report says that 'There is a general perception that current diversity efforts are not working and that there's a lack of diversity understanding broadly.'

A participant in a focus group is quoted as saying, 'A lot of folks are personally invested in diversity inclusion but their voices have been smothered or pushed away.'

HRC's Human Resources department was singled out for explicit criticism.

'More than half of staff believe HR is under-resourced when it comes to diversity and inclusion,' the report notes. In one particularly glaring finding, the report notes that '67% of supervisors don't think HR provides adequate training for managers.'

On the other hand, the report also says that employees were eager to participate in the Pipeline Project's process because they believe in HRC's aims and want to help it succeed.

'There is a high level of commitment among HRC's staff to the point that almost three-quarters would recommend the organization to a friend or colleague as a good place to work,' the report concludes.

HRC president Chad Griffin said in his June 3 statement that the group was aware of its problems and would change.

'The organization is clearly committed to positive change,' Griffin said. 'As the research phase of this effort was getting underway, I was appearing before Southern Comfort to offer a full-throated apology to the trans community on behalf of HRC.'

The Southern Comfort Transgender Conference is an annual event, one of the largest conferences for Trans people in the U.S. Griffin gave the keynote address at last year's conference, and apologized for his group's neglect of the Trans community.

'There should be no doubt that this entire effort is intentional and part of a continuous cycle of improvement,' Griffin's June 3 statement continued.

'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.'

According to HRC, the group has already restructured its HR Department, including 'a new staff and a heightened focus on diversity competencies.'

Regarding Transgender issues specifically, the group says it has 'updated the staff new-hire form to include gender identity and expression; added categories to allow staff to self-identify; [and] implemented data collection language based on Williams Institute recommendations for sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.' It also says it has implemented a new policy for transitioning employees.

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HRC is a 'white men's club' report says
Group admits to problems, promises to change

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