How to Foster Trans-Inclusive Work Environments
At a time in which trans rights are increasingly under attack, fostering a culture of respect and inclusion–for individuals of all gender identities and expressions–is paramount. Here are tips for fostering a trans-friendly workplace environment, in which transgender and gender non-conforming people feel respected, safe, and valued.
Create a culture of asking for people’s pronouns. A simple step to introduce gender pronouns into conversation in your workplace is by adding your own pronouns to your email signature. It’s also a good idea to start meetings with each person introducing themselves by sharing their names and preferred pronouns, if they feel comfortable. Doing so normalizes the process, reminds people not to make assumptions about anyone’s gender identity, and demonstrates a willingness to use someone’s preferred pronouns.
Avoid using gendered, non-inclusive language
Inclusive language goes a long way when validating people’s identities. When you use phrases like “hey guys” or “hey ladies,” you run the risk of misgendering someone. By being intentional about the language you use (and using alternative phrases such as “folks,” “people,” or “everyone” to refer to a group), you reduce the risk of alienating people.
Provide organization-wide training, and recognize that everyone plays a part
While many organizations hold mandatory diversity trainings, these often lack a focus on trans-inclusion. Company-wide cultural competency trainings can be excellent educational tools, raising awareness about microaggressions and proper pronoun use, providing a basic foundation of LGBTQ vocabulary, and providing a space for discussion about uncomfortable or awkward situations.
Commitment from senior leadership is critical; however, building a company-wide culture of inclusion extends well beyond upper management. Recognize that each person plays a part in creating an environment in which transgender people feel respected and valued.
It is okay–and important–to acknowledge that you still have work to do. Be honest and transparent about your organization’s shortcomings and hold yourself accountable; understanding where you are will help you determine how you need to improve.
Ultimately, it comes down to a willingness to learn. By fostering ongoing conversations surrounding the diversity of gender and gender expression, you indicate that the inclusion of all individuals is a priority – and contribute to creating an environment in which people feel like they can be their authentic selves at work.
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