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Gender identity: How to be more inclusive when using pronouns

Source | | Suki Sandhu

Awareness of gender identity and expression has grown in recent years and its important for employers to understand how trans, non-binary, genderfluid or genderqueer employees can be affected by the use of incorrect pronouns and mis-gendering. Suki Sandhu looks at some of the small changes employers can make to be more inclusive. 

The world is a very binary place. Speculation about our gender begins long before we’re born. Before we even learn to speak, we are taught words as pairs and opposites; at school we are split into boys and girls; in adulthood we are greeted as ladies and gentlemen. For many of you these terms may seem perfectly innocuous, but for those who are trans, gender non-binary, gender fluid or genderqueer, these words can be isolating and exclusive.

For the purpose of this article I’m going to use the term “trans” to encompass all of these groups – but it’s important to be aware that they are not one and the same.

Gender identity is a nuanced, unique construct, and one that needs to be respected for every individual. While some gender variant individuals identify as the umbrella term “trans”, others do not, and it’s important to bear this in mind.

In recent years, there has been an increased awareness of gender identity and expression in the media, popular culture and in business. It’s long been recognised that inclusive workplaces lead to better staff performance and ultimately profitability, but when it comes to matters of gender identity, workplaces are often falling short. It’s great to say that you’re an inclusive employer, but to deliver on that promise, you need a genuinely inclusive culture and HR infrastructure.

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