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Like many organizations and companies throughout our country, HRC has embarked on a thoughtful and comprehensive diversity and inclusion effort with the goals of better representing the communities we serve -- and hiring, nurturing and retaining a work force that not only looks like America but feels respected and appreciated for the hard work they do every day.

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. 

One element of this process was for HRC to proactively bring in outside experts to work with our staff to measure the workplace climate and offer recommendations on how it could be improved. The fact that the organization embraced self-examination of this kind means that we’re committed to improvement. As we fully anticipated, the report flagged problem areas that the organization has already begun to tackle aggressively. We’ll continue to address them, one by one, as any serious organization recognizing these challenges would.

This report, by Pipeline Consulting, was sent to Buzzfeed by an anonymous source and was published today. While it was not our intention to share this information with our staff in this manner, we will now deal proactively with the facts in front of us.

It’s very important to note that the data in this report was collected early last fall – 9 months ago -- as part of our ongoing diversity and inclusion effort launched when I became president in 2012. The organization strongly encouraged employees – including senior team members -- to actively participate in all aspects of the process and as many of you noted in the report, team members viewed the effort positively. Work was already underway before the report was commissioned, it continued while the report was underway, and significant accomplishments have been made since the report was completed.

The organization is clearly committed to positive change. 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. There should be no doubt that this entire effort is intentional and part of a continuous cycle of improvement.

There is no doubt that we still have much work to do but progress has been made as we can detail below:

Progress since the Pipeline Report

·         Created five employee resource groups: for transgender and gender-expansive employees; for people of color; for women; for bisexual employees; and for remote employees. Each of these resources groups has an executive staff member who is a sponsor.

·         Restructured Human Resources Department – we have a new staff and a heightened focus on diversity competencies.

·         Additional recruiting efforts to diverse audiences undertaken to reach prospective applicants.

·         Changed all job postings to affirmatively communicate that diverse candidates are encouraged to apply.

·         Greater focus on diversity for participants in the Equality Leaders for the 21st Century trainings for HRC volunteers.

·         Proactive compensation reviews will be on-going. The minimum salary for DC-based employees was raised from $30,000 to $35,000 with corresponding increases for employees in tiers making above this amount.

·         Re-evaluated the requirements for jobs that previously required a bachelor's degree and changed many of them to say “bachelor's degree or equivalent in experience is required.” Because some historically marginalized communities haven't had as much access to college degrees, simply requiring a bachelor's degree without allowing for equivalent experience can lead to unintended exclusion of people from marginalized communities.

·         Began providing training and holding staff-wide discussions on diversity topics -- including a training focusing on gender expansive identities, one on bisexuality in the last year, and a conversation in the summer around racial injustice. This curriculum will continue to grow with further mandatory trainings.

·         Increased the budget scholarships for our internship program and added a requirement for a diversity statement to increase this key pipeline to HRC employment.

·         Updated the new staff orientation process – greater reinforcement of diversity; training on the use of pronouns is now included.

·         Updated the announcements for new staff to include pronouns.

·         Removed the gender binary language in job descriptions (e.g. s/he is no longer used in job descriptions).

·         Surveyed all staff about their pronouns and now utilize them for organizational communications. 

·         Updated staff new-hire form to include gender identity and expression; added categories to allow staff to self-identify; implemented data collection language based on Williams Institute recommendations for sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. 

·         New policy implemented for transitioning employees.

·         Updated the dress code to removed gendered language.

·         Initiated regulatory guidance in DC requiring coverage of transgender health care at WPATH standards; pressed CareFirst, the largest insurance provider in DC, to clarify its coverage policy on transgender health benefits; developed a list of transgender friendly providers in the DC area for our staff.

·         At all HRC board convenings, gender pronouns are now listed on name tags.

 

In the Works

·         Adding to existing gender-neutral bathroom by changing all current bathrooms to become gender-neutral.

·         Additional training on diversity competencies.

·         New diversity position in search process—director-level position will focus on improving diversity and inclusion within the organization.

 

There’s no doubt that we have a lot of hard work ahead of us but please know that HRC – and I – are committed to it.


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