Black Women Call Out Toxic Workplace Culture At Top Feminist Organizations

A scorching exposé is calling out feminist organizations for their lack of representation and toxic workplace culture. On Monday, The Lily, a publication for millennial women, outlined in detail the ways in which some of the country’s most revered women-led entities are pushing an agenda catered to White women at the detriment of their Black employees.

Among those named in the article are the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The latter’s mission is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research and the homepage talks about achieving a “vision of equal opportunity for all.” But Black former staffers who worked at AAUW say within the nonprofit, that’s simply not the case.

Those interviewed believe the vision of the organization is unclear. It was formed with the goal of aiding in women’s liberation, but in 2020, those interviewed say the focus on White, middle-class women is far less of a struggle given the gains they’ve already made in society. While those at the helm believe they are doing good work in the name of social justice, their upper management and board of directors are mainly White women who know, simply, how to speak to their own needs and those of their own communities. 

The same, they say, can be said for NOW, which was formed in the wake of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ensure employers were not discriminating on the basis of sex. But over the years, the priorities of the group have not always included the protection of Black women. Ensuring the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was upheld by employers didn’t address some of the unique challenges women of color face in and outside of the workplace.

Members of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) carry banners on Pennsylvania Avenue (at approximately 3rd St NW) during the Equal Rights Amendment March, Washington DC, July 9, 1978. Among their banners is one that reads, ‘AAUW, Delaware, [District of Columbia], Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania.’ Many supporters wear white in homage to the suffragists who had marched in Washington sixty-five years earlier. Visible in the background is the United States Courts of the District of Columbia Circuit building. (Photo by Ann E. Zelle/Getty Images)

In light of heightened racial tensions and a reckoning in corporate America, the question the article poses is whether NOW, AAUW and others have it in them to change. For those interviewed, it’s a no. They say the fight for true feminism and true equality will not be happening on their watch.