Happy Pride, y’all! The last year, in particular, has required that companies and their people learn how to be on the right side of history, which includes dismantling old, oppressive systems and building new ones from the ground up. One area we can all agree needs work is in attracting top talent that runs the gamut of genders, abilities, and skills. We’re here to help improve your efforts with a few tips that can help you move in a more inclusive direction. We should note that one beautiful thing about language is that it’s constantly changing and evolving. Another thing: peoples’ personal preferences will always supersede any list of tips found on the Internet, just FYI. Lastly, we’re also human and definitely not perfect. So while our tips serve the here and now, we’ll be back to revise as we reflect and keep supporting our communities.
Recognize the full community
First, get educated and acquainted with all aspects of the LGBTQIA+ community. Know what each letter stands for and get familiar with gender expression terminology. Make your personal education ongoing, because, like we said, language is changing every day! For example, look at ways to encourage gender-neutral greetings instead of binary-dependent ones. Greetings like “‘Sup y’all!”, “Hi, folx!”, and “How’s it going, friend?”, avoid the binary and are just more pleasant over phrases restricted for “guys and gals”. Next, be sure that your company is aligned with truly inclusive organizations and brands. While some organizations might be focused exclusively on a subset of people, be sure your partnerships expand to include and support the full community.
Talk about pronouns in the workplace
Whether you’re interviewing someone for the first time or you’re having your first meeting with a person, your company should normalize stating pronouns. There are so many ways you can do this—put your pronouns in your Slack profile, add them to the end of your name in Zoom meetings, incorporate them in your email signature, or simply introduce yourself in person with your name, followed by what pronouns you prefer. Cis folks especially need to take the initiative in stating pronouns. As D1 athlete and activist Shulyer Bailar notes, “sharing pronouns not only dismantles the idea that gender expression... always equals gender identity,... but also creates a safe space for trans and gender-nonconforming folks to share our pronouns and be gendered correctly, too.”
If using pronouns like “they” are a new thing for you, try practicing peoples’ pronouns while alone. And, yes, you should use a person’s preferred pronouns even when they’re not around. Remember, this isn’t about your personal comfort; it’s about honoring their civil rights as a person. You’re practicing because all people in your company should feel seen and accepted the way they are. What happens if you mess up? Don’t make a big deal about it— we all mess up and hey, it’s not about you—just apologize, correct yourself, and keep going with the conversation. Easy peasy.
Remove gender and binary bias from hiring and onboarding materials
To start, you always want to reiterate how inclusive your hiring process is by including a statement that your company does not discriminate against anyone based on gender or orientation. Many companies already do this, yet they might overlook other alienating parts of their job postings. For example, restricting applicants to check one of two “sex” boxes, or, even worse, adding an “other” box ::cringe:: is just not acceptable. If you want to include this question, just use a gender text field that leaves the identification up to the applicant. If you don’t need to know honorifics like “Mr.” or “Ms.”, consider leaving those off altogether. An option for “prefer not to disclose” is also fine. Before posting, have more than one person of different genders review your job postings to remove gender bias and ensure diverse language in your job descriptions. By removing keywords that skew one way or another on gender, you’ll receive way more applicants and you’ll be working toward a more inclusive future for all. Want to see what we mean? Check out this handy tool for gender decoding job descriptions.
Offer more inclusive benefits
Some standard benefits are just outdated at this point and need a revamp. For example, many companies still offer only paid maternal leave. Meanwhile, no two families are alike! In addition, there are some life-saving health benefits that everyone, regardless of their identity, needs and deserves. Benefits like mental health coverage or improved coverage for surgery not only improve your employees’ wellbeing, they improve your entire workforce. BTW, the ACA made it illegal for any medical company to refuse transition-related care, so the law is on your side to help you fight for your employees. Want more on how to update your benefits for 2021? We got you.
Ask for feedback often
Seems like a no-brainer, right? But post-pandemic, after most people will have been on-boarded remotely, this might be one of those things that companies forget to do. It’s crucial that you ask for anonymous feedback on the interview experience, onboarding, and the workplace environment. When it comes down to it, you want to know that all individuals feel validated and celebrated for who they are, especially when we’re still mostly working remotely. Listen intently, gather feedback, publicly call out mistakes, and work together to root out anything problematic. You’ll be standing up for your people while building trust in your company as a safe, inclusive space.