Solving Problems/Improving Leadership

Civil Rights Organization Must Educate Itself

Despite being a highly recognized civil rights organization, it seems as though everyone at ADL needs the actual “civil rights team,” composed of civil rights lawyers, to approve or edit their work. As an intern solely on the civil rights team, it has been a stressful yet interesting past week. After the launch of Stop Hate For Profit, my supervisor was instructed to halt her regular work and almost entirely focus on the campaign, which asks advertisers to boycott advertising on Facebook and its other platforms as a way of demanding action be taken against the hate and misinformation spread on the site. While she is passionate about this project, it is telling that there may be operational issues within the organization if there was no one else they could entrust this work with, not even on the marketing or technology teams. Additionally, my boss is still being pulled in many directions as she serves as a sounding board, editor, co-creator and more for almost every project concerning civil rights in the technological space. In short: the organization needs her to do the work of multiple persons. While it is common at a non-profit to have one person doing different types of projects and handling the work of two, the amount of work passed on to my supervisor could easily occupy a team of four. Sadly, this is true for all of the lawyers on the civil rights team and speaks to a larger issue of those in formal and informal positions abusing leadership and not holding their own constituents or themselves accountable for being versed in the issues our country is currently facing. Instead of educating themselves and working with the civil rights team to produce the best material, the work is being passed on to the civil rights team, spreading them extremely thin. This issue has been discussed several times in meetings with the team – each time calling for greater collaboration and education from leadership for the whole organization, but no progress has been made. In my opinion, it is crucial for the organization to take a step back and reevaluate their strategy for holding employees accountable for all matters they handle, so the work of many does not land on a few.