Does your organization provide training to help employees understand and practice gender inclusivity? If not, is it something you’re considering? There are several reasons why many employers are doing just that.
For example, promoting gender inclusivity can:
- Promote and improve employee morale.
- Reduce bullying, harassment, and even possibly violence.
- Help the organization to be inclusive of all members.
- Ensure that everyone is treated fairly.
If your organization is considering adding gender inclusivity training, here are some things to include:
- Common terms associated with gender identity and what it means to be transgender or non-binary. Include information on intersectionality. Also include information on the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation.
- Advice for employees to never make assumptions. If they have questions, there are a lot of ways to do research. In other words, remember to not put the burden on an individual to answer all of your questions. For the employer, this means train the team on where to look and who to ask for answers. (It’s okay to have some questions—just don’t make someone answer everything. If you have a question for an individual, ask them first if they are okay with answering questions of that type.)
- How to use proper pronouns and to ensure that you’re using an individual’s preferred pronouns. Be sure everyone understands the idea of gender-neutral pronouns and how to use them—both for employees and for customers.
- How to respect someone’s privacy. Being able to ask questions does not open free reign to ask inappropriate ones. Teach how to know the difference.
- Anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and anti-bullying.
- Examples of the types of difficulties someone may face and how to not contribute to those.
- Information explaining that differences in gender identity and expression are not a mental disorder—they’re not a condition or something to be treated to make it go away.
Inclusive Workplace Culture
Here are some further actions employers can take to promote an inclusive workplace culture. Do things like:
- Allow people to designate their preferred pronouns. Consider name tags that allow this.
- Update any and all forms to allow more selections anywhere a gender selection is required. Or stop requiring it when possible.
- Have non-gendered bathrooms open for anyone to use (or bathrooms that are single-use) and also allow individuals to use the bathroom that fits with their identity.
- Ensure everyone is involved in the training, not just those who self-select. But also ensure that the tone is upbeat, not threatening. (Previous anti sexual harassment training often had a “don’t do this or we’ll get in legal trouble” tone—which typically isn’t well-received.)
- Ensure your policies that cover things like anti-harassment, anti-discrimination, and anti-bullying specifically cover gender identity.
- Update your dress code to remove unnecessary gendered expectations. If you have a policy about how hair is kept, ensure it’s not gendered either.
- Confirm your health insurance covers mental health care and gender-affirming health care. If necessary, work with the insurance company on this.
- Train managers and supervisors first, so they’re well versed and able to answer team questions after everyone else receives training. They also may require additional training on handling conflicts and problems.
- Work to ensure you’ve got all types of diversity within the organization, including gender diversity. This doesn’t require going out of your way to seek out gender diverse applicants, but it may require training the hiring team on not discriminating based on gender presentation. It may also help to review job posts to ensure they’re not gendered.
- Consider using a third party that is well-versed in gender diversity and inclusivity to manage the training you provide. The Human Rights Campaign and the CARE both have a lot of resources across the country. This is also an opportunity for more general sensitivity training. It could also be an opportunity for training about unconscious bias.
Training can go a long way toward fostering an inclusive culture where everyone feels welcome and can be themselves. It can boost employee morale and help people to learn and grow.
Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.