Management · March 18, 2021

Supporting Gender Inclusion in the Workplace: Tips to Build a Better Company Culture

When you think about gender inclusion in the workplace, it's easy to think in terms of simply men and women and the longstanding issues of pay parity and opportunity. However, the LGBTQ+ community expands the gender inclusion conversation, making it imperative that companies consider transgender and gender-nonconforming people as well. Companies should consider how policies and practices impact these individuals before they're hired and during day-to-day employment.

To help your company build a culture that embraces and supports all gender identities, use the tips below to create your policies with intention and accountability.

Build a culture around gender inclusion

2020's landmark Supreme Court decision solidified that gay, lesbian and transgender employees are protected against discrimination in the workplace. But there's much more for companies to do than merely avoid breaking the law.

Typical diversity and inclusion programs tend to focus on cisgender (that is, people who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth) employees. Yet with conversations about transgender and gender-nonconforming people becoming more prevalent in society, companies should ensure that gender-diverse employees also benefit from diversity and inclusion programs. That means revisiting the policies that govern your corporate culture and modeling behavior that makes gender-diverse employees feel equal, respected and valued—just as their cisgender counterparts do—from the top down.

The tips that follow can help your company take steps to ensure gender inclusion in the workplace.

Ensure all candidates feel welcome and included

You can take actions to remove marginalizing language and processes to help make trans and other gender-diverse applicants feel welcome.

Check for binaries

Job applications and benefits forms often revert to two selections for gender: male and female. Work with your HR department and benefits providers to add in gender-diverse check boxes, and expand phrasing to be inclusive.

Normalize pronouns

Creating a company-wide practice of including pronouns in email signatures is an easy way to model behavior for prospective and current employees. This also lets applicants know that your company values gender identity and lets people share their pronouns in a low- to no-pressure environment.

Review benefits

Gender-diverse candidates and employees may have different healthcare needs, so it's important to work with your benefits providers (or even change providers) to ensure inclusion. Make sure that transition, hormonal therapies and mental health services are part of your benefits. Your company should also create policies that address employee gender transition and how managers and HR work together to ease the process.

Invest in the right training

While many organizations are starting to incorporate more LGBTQ+ inclusive training in the workplace, there is still room for improvement. According to Harvard Business Journal, there is more emphasis being placed on the LGB than the TQ+. In addition to gender equity policies, it's important to make trans and queer educational initiatives part of your company's inclusion work for all employees.

First, your company can start by encouraging employees to take Harvard's free implicit bias test. Results are private to the individuals and not shared with the company. Next, you can hire an organization to lead gender identity and inclusion training. Training should be refreshed at regular intervals to keep abreast of changing social norms and laws.

Provide support to gender-diverse employees

To support gender-diverse employees in the workplace day to day, here are some best practices to help drive an inclusive culture.

Designate gender-neutral bathrooms

Add or designate gender-neutral bathrooms, and create policies that support employees using restrooms that correspond with their gender identity, not their gender assigned at birth.

Establish pathways for resolution

As part of your support network for employees, gender-diverse employees need pathways to resolve concerns. Clearly spell out a point of contact, create a producer for addressing concerns and incorporate resolution pathways into your gender identity training initiatives.

Promote advocacy

Gender-diverse employees need champions at your company and shouldn't be left to do all the heavy lifting on their own. Leaders and colleagues can model behavior that corrects misgendering when it happens.

Remember that support systems you create for your gender-diverse employees ultimately benefit your entire talent pool. It's all a part of knowing that every team member is equal and deserves to be respected, valued and heard.

As your company presses forward with its diversity, equity and inclusion practices, remember that these initiatives take time. Avoid the impulse to set it and forget it. Instead, continuously check in with your company's culture so that all identities can contribute at the highest possible level while showing up for work each day as their truest, most authentic selves. Your trusted business partners may be able to provide additional insights about strengthening these efforts.


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