Organizational behavior is an interesting study among activists and volunteers who work together to improve the quality of life among oppressed groups. Members serving on committees, who are blind-sighted by hidden agendas, not privy to all information or proposed changes, are in danger of falling victim to the very facet which they vow to eliminate; oppression. Distrust sets in among members who now find themselves, victims of oppression; triggering dysfunction and obstructing the fluidity of the process. When a proposal is presented by the individual running the process, as something which was suggested in prior months by members whose names are not mentioned, to restructure the organizational reporting by those who have selectively self assigned entitlement to certain roles and activities, a heightened sense of awareness among the oppressed members ensues and without any words exchanged, the dynamics within the group change.
I am referring to the process of a Jacksonville’s committee whose members were intent to see to it that the HRO would pass at the local level without any assistance by outside groups, whose individuals are accustomed to working with political agendas, but were asked to take a back seat. Rumors flew throughout the community and tensions escalated. Questions from community members were “Why a large organization, such as Equality Florida, would not be invited to the table and take a position at the forefront of the process?” The general consensus among the LGBT public was that the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing and that they could have benefitted from outside support. Others argued that the changes needed to be done at the local level without outside assistance. Who was in charge? No one really knew, but some of the individuals in the LGBT community surmised that it was a selective group of individuals who were viewed as secretive and not willing to freely disclose matters. While the new members are assured that any future process will be transparent, validation and accountability are going to be put through a Litmus test.
What strengthens freedom among members serving on committees is the belief in allowing expression of all thoughts to flourish. Dysfunction occurs when the parties are not forthcoming and camouflage truth through establishing a power grab of those whom they have deemed unworthy or less capable of serving as part of the inner circle, (not by majority vote) witnessing the proposal to demote some of the members by recommending a change in structure, (not by any voting process transparent to the entire committee), leaving much doubt and dismay among some of the members.
Some of the members expressed that they were just handed the kiss of death. Distrust could be pulsed throughout the room. The realization sat in that they were not deemed, any longer, politically correct or worthy of any contribution. The question which comes to mind among members, is “Who are the gatekeepers?”. Glances were swiftly swapped from one individual to another in roundtable fashion, while the tension among the power players increased. Some of the members weren’t easily swayed by colorfully presented denials that they might actually have gone back to gatekeeping.
Reluctancy sets in among some of those who have financially and emotionally invested and contributed their time and energy and trust to improve quality and performance within organizational structures, circumventing those who want to gatekeep through the art of asking questions to help dispel any possible hidden agendas, which disrupt healthy process and otherwise would hinder bringing about the desired change. When practices are in question and are overlooked or not challenged inside the borders, that is when the dysfunction sets in. Circumvention calls for a strategy and should be implemented by the members to enforce corrective measures and ethical behavior in order to reduce any chance of oppression; insisting on equality at this basic level among all of the members, who signed up to improve their communities, would ensure respect among the group and enhance their interests in working collaboratively to wipe out discrimination. The first course of action might result in a decision to challenge the process with the support of peers, advisers or financial backers before they remove themselves from the process. When committee members question professional conduct it might be time to challenge the platform.