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Creating a More Gender Neutral Workplace

"Employers are going to be faced with an increasing percentage of employees over time who have nonbinary identities," because there is greater prevalence of gender ambiguity among young people, says public policy scholar Jody Herman in this NPR article.

People whose gender identity is different than their sex assigned at birth fall under the

umbrella of transgender identity. This umbrella includes terms such as: gender fluid, non-binary, gender non-conforming, agender, bigender or genderqueer.

These words are used to describe individuals who identify with a gender identity that is opposite of their sex assigned at birth. Others identify as neither, both, or somewhere in between female or male.

In the year 2025, Millennials, the most diverse generation so far, will represent 75% of the workforce, according to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey. Millennials are more than 2x as likely to identify as LGBTQ and more likely to identify as non-binary or gender fluid than previous generations.

LGBTQ inclusion is important to allies as well— 72% of whom say that they are more likely to accept a job at an LGBTQ inclusive company than a non-inclusive company according to this Harvard Business Review article.

Here are some aspects of the hiring process and workplace to consider as we move toward a more gender neutral workplace of the future.

  • Don't make assumptions about gender in the workplace

  • Provide designated gender neutral restrooms in the workplace

  • Use gender-neutral pronouns in your employee handbook, official communication and forms

  • Avoid greetings such as "Ladies and Gentlemen"

  • Structure personal, family leave and bereavement policies in a way that does not assume or require the existence of a heterosexual relationship

  • Develop a dress code policy that does not differentiate between appropriate clothing for male versus female employees

  • Answer "preferred pronoun usage" on written job applications as well as during another point in the hiring process

  • Do not ask about medical status, including hormones or surgery, this should go without saying regardless

Beginning to make some of these shifts in the workplace will not only help avoid potential legal issues in the future, but make your workplace more progressive, inclusive and open up new opportunities for talent with younger generations.


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