Organizational behavior is an interesting study of 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 they vow to eliminate; oppression. Distrust sets in among members who now find themselves victimized, triggering dysfunction and obstructing the fluidity of the process. When a proposal to restructure the organizational reporting is presented as something suggested in prior months, with self-assigned 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 on seeing that the HRO would pass at the local level without any assistance from 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 consensus among the LGBT public was that the right hand did not know what the left was doing and could have benefitted from outside support. Others argued that the changes needed to be done locally without outside assistance. Who was in charge? No one knew, but some individuals in the LGBT community surmised that it was a selective group viewed as secretive and unwilling to disclose matters freely. While the new members are assured that any future process will be transparent, validation and accountability will be put through a Litmus test.
What strengthens freedom among members serving on committees is allowing the expression of all thoughts to flourish. Dysfunction occurs when the parties are not forthcoming and camouflage the truth—in establishing power over those whom they have deemed unworthy or less capable of serving as part of the inner circle, under the guise of recommending a change in structure (not by majority vote nor not by any voting process transparent to the entire committee), left much doubt and dismay among some of the members.
One of the members expressed that they were just handed the kiss of death. Distrust could be pulsed throughout the room. The realization sat that they were no longer politically correct or worthy of contribution. The question which comes to mind among members is, “Who are the gatekeepers?”. Glances were swiftly swapped from one individual to another in a roundtable fashion while the tension among the power players increased. Some members weren’t easily swayed by colorfully presented denials that they might have returned to gatekeeping.
Reluctancy sets in among people who financially and emotionally invested and contributed their time, energy and trust to improve quality and performance within organizational structures.
When practices are in question and are overlooked or not challenged inside the borders, that is when dysfunction sets in. To circumvent and implement a strategy by the members is one way to enforce corrective measures and ethical behavior. To reduce any chance of oppression, insisting on equality at this basic level among all members, who signed up to improve their communities, would ensure respect among the group and enhance their interest 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.
This article was updated on June 5, 2023.