Overview of Contents
The Future is Fluid and In Colour
Building a Shared Language: Glossary of Terms
Leading Policy Practices
- Human Resources Information System (HRIS), Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems, and Forms
- LGBTQIA2+ Self-Identification (Self-ID)
- Gender Inclusive Restrooms and Facilities
- Gender Inclusive Dress Codes
- Gender Transition/Affirmation Policy
- International Assignments
- Designing LGBTQIA2+ Inclusive Benefits
Co-Creating a Culture of Inclusion
- Embracing Intersectionality
- Climate Surveys
- Sharing Pronouns
- Inclusive Language
Maximizing Employee Resource Group (ERG) Impact
Learning With Feminuity
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About The Author
Give Credit Where Credit's Due
As a leading global strategy firm specializing in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Feminuity is dedicated to assisting workplaces in embracing and prioritizing sexuality and gender diversity. We strive to support leaders in advocating for these critical intersections, fostering education, and aligning their operations accordingly.
So, we created this first-of-its-kind exploration of leading practices and policies that will revolutionize workplaces by putting LGBTQIA2+ considerations front and centre. It also offers additional articles and thought leadership for anyone interested in delving deeper.
We know a guide like this is a necessary touchpoint for Human Resources (HR), People, and DEI Leaders. Too often, unjust politicization and sensationalism relegate sexual and gender diversity to the shadows of workplace initiatives. However, sexuality and gender are fundamental parts of who we are - organization policies and procedures should be designed to accommodate and celebrate them.
Finally, throughout this resource we will occasionally use the word “queer” as an umbrella term for the LGBTQIA2+ community as a whole. This is in acknowledgment of the reclamation of the term by the LGBTQIA2+ community in the contemporary world, but we want to emphasize that we do not seek to erase its complicated history. For more information, please check out What is the Q? by Out & Equal.
The Future is Fluid and In Colour
With greater visibility and awareness around sexual and gender diversity, many organizations are now asking the vital question of how they can best support their LGBTQIA2+ team members.
Undoubtedly, LGBTQIA2+ inclusion should be a priority for any organization. Unfortunately, queer team members often feel like they don’t belong and are reluctant to share their identity. This significantly impacts their productivity, psychological safety, and ability to imagine themselves at an organization long-term.
Data shows that LGBTQIA2+ professionals report countless incidents of discrimination, bias, bullying, and offensive language. In addition, unemployment rates are higher for the LGBTQIA2+ community than the general population. These numbers are even more worrying for transgender people, especially racialized trans people.
With these realities in mind, a sizable majority of people report being more likely to support or take a job at an organization that has anti-discrimination measures in place based on sexuality and gender. Generation Z, which comprises more and more of the global workforce each year, is the queerest cohort yet with one-third describing their sexuality as not exclusively heterosexual.
Building a Shared Language: Glossary of Terms
For teams not well-versed or familiar with LGBTQIA2+ terminology, identities, or communities, we recommend signing up for Level-UP eLearning, a budget-friendly digital learning experience for people at the beginning of their learning journey.
Alternatively, you can review the following foundational glossaries to build a baseline understanding before reading the recommendations in this resource.
- LGBTQIA Resource Center Glossary (UC Davis)
- Glaad Media Reference Guide
- Comprehensive* List of LGBTQ+ Vocabulary Definitions
- LGBTQ Terminology (Out & Equal)
- Glossary of Terms (Human Rights Campaign)
For additional content on specific LGBTQIA2+ identities, review the following:
- Asexuality Visibility & Education Network
- Bisexual Resource Center
- 4 Demisexual People Explain What "Demisexuality" Means To Them (Tinder)
- What is the Q? (Out & Equal)
- What Does Pansexual Mean? (Time)
Gender Identity and Gender Expression
- What ‘Cisgender' Means | NBC Out (Jacob Tobia)
- It’s Time to Add 'Mx.' into the Daily Mix of Titles (USA Today)
- This Is What Gender-Nonbinary People Look Like (them.)
- 5 Non-Binary People Explain What “Non-Binary” Means to Them (Tinder)
- Gender Unicorn (Trans Student Education Resources, TSER)
- Supporting Intersex Inclusion in the Workplace
- InterAct: Advocates for Intersex Youth
- Let's Talk About Intersex
Global Gender and Sexual Diversity
- A Map of Gender-Diverse Cultures (PBS)
- Global Terms (Digital Transgender Archive)
- Non-Binary Gender Identities: A Diverse Global History (Out & Equal)
- Transgender, Third Gender, No Gender (Human Rights Watch)
- What Does "Two-Spirit" Mean? (InQueery | them.)
- BESE Explains Two-Spirit
- Supporting Two-Spirit People (Center for American Progress)
Disclaimer: These lists are by no means comprehensive. Language is constantly evolving and words concerning identity hold a specific importance for those that embrace a particular label. We encourage you to listen to and prioritize a person’s self-understanding over standard definitions that often sacrifice complexity to be more concise.
Leading Policy Practices
Human Resources Information System (HRIS), Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems, and Forms
There are many ways you can customize your Human Resources Information System (HRIS), Applicant Tracking System (ATS), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems, and forms to collect important information while honouring the gender and sexual diversity of your current and incoming workforce.
Choose an HRIS, ATS, and CRM that includes gender designations beyond the binary and enables you to customize fields. Workday is one example of a platform that models this sort of gender inclusivity.
- When collecting data on prefixes and titles for HR documentation, your sales/marketing database, or any sort of event registration, make sure to include the gender-neutral honorific Mx.
- Incorporate fields for team members to voluntarily list their pronouns on their HRIS profile and within the application process. Do not use “he/she” in forms, your team member handbook, written policies, your ATS, or your HRIS—instead use the singular “they” or rephrase to avoid any indication of gender.
- Incorporate fields for potential and current team members to voluntarily list their chosen name on their applications and HRIS profile. Prioritize this name wherever legally permissible such as on organization emails, name badges, website, daily interactions, etc.
- If for reasons of legal compliance, you are required to collect binary gender information, you should be explicit as to why you must do so and include additional fields for team members to list their gender and chosen name.
- Express your disappointment through formalized feedback if you are currently using an ATS, HRIS, or CRM that does not allow for the inclusion of non-binary gender identities or any customization of gender-related fields. In the long-term, consider migrating to a new ATS, HRIS, or CRM or moving the process in-house.
- Connect with government agencies that require reporting around gender to figure out what the best way would be to report the gender of non-binary team members. In the United States (U.S.), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently added a non-binary gender option to the discrimination charge in-take process.
- In legal contracts where using the singular “they” might open you to liability due to its ambiguity, do not use he/she. In consultation with a lawyer, consider gender neutral language such as “the applicant,” “the team member,” “the individual,” “the person,” or another suitable, gender-inclusive language choice. Be aware that many countries already enable legal non-binary gender registration in various instances including Denmark, India, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, United States, and others. So, in some cases, omitting non-binary gender designations does not align with prevailing legal nomenclature.
- Be specific and affirming. Only including “other” in conjunction with “man” and “woman” categories is not inclusive. Be sure to, at minimum, include “non-binary,” self-report,” and “prefer not to answer” fields.
- Designing Forms for Gender Diversity and Inclusion
- Don't Just Add 'Other': How to Make Employment Forms Inclusive (HR Dive)
- EEOC Provides Guidance on EEO-1 Filing for Non-Binary Employees
- Non-Binary Gender Registration Models in Europe (ILGA - Europe)
- How Inclusive Is Your Data? (Journal of AHIMA)
LGBTQIA2+ Self-Identification (Self-ID)
LGBTQIA2+ Self-Identification (Self-ID) refers to the collection of team member information regarding their sexuality, gender, and sexcharacteristics. Collecting data on the LGBTQIA2+ community in your workplace is a crucial first action in understanding the needs and challenges of queer* team members at your organization. It also signals to LGBTQIA2+ team members that you care about their experiences and outcomes.
- The utmost care should be taken in making sure the data is secure and remains private.
- LGBTQIA2+ team members must be able to decide whether they want to share their personal data.
- Data privacy regulations in some countries prohibit employers from collecting information relating to sexuality and gender from team members. In other countries, there are specific restrictions around asking about sexuality and gender.
- Data should only be shared in an aggregated form that prevents the identification of individuals.
- Team members should give explicit permission before their names can be shared for professional development opportunities in a way that would identify their membership in the LGBTQIA2+ community.
- Businesses should expect significant underreporting when piloting their Self-ID program as it will take time to build confidence that the data will remain private and for team members to trust the goals of the effort.
- Assure team members that if they participate in the Self-ID program, their information will not be shared with their teams, managers, or peers.
- Audit data privacy regulations and compliance procedures for each jurisdiction/country where you conduct business.
- After launching a Self-ID program, continue to educate team members about the Self-ID option and benefits through blogs, reminders during pride, and video campaigns.
- Consider consulting with an experienced third-party to help with the initial set-up of your Self-ID program.
Self-ID is possible in most regions. IBM makes it possible for team members in 40 countries (covering 87% of the IBM workforce) to record their sexuality and gender on their HR record.
Self-ID data gives metrics and insights relating to the recruitment, retention, promotion, and experiences of LGBTQIA2+ team members. These are vital in identifying growth areas for your workplace and understanding how LGBTQIA2+ team members are faring at different levels of your organization. Having this data allows HR, People, & DEI leaders to obtain concrete numbers and set tangible goals.
Ideally, voluntary self-identification options for sexuality, gender, transgender status, and intersex status should be available in applications, HR profiles, and engagement/climate surveys
Tips for Structuring Self-ID Questions
- Include various gender identities beyond the binary and sexual identities beyond “heterosexual,” “gay,” and “lesbian.”
- Keep questions relating to sexuality and gender separate. Gender is about who you are, and sexuality is about who you may be attracted to - do not conflate or mix the two.
- Do not include categories like “trans man” or “trans woman.” Separating “trans man” from “man” and “trans woman” from “woman” furthers the idea that trans men aren’t really men and trans women aren’t really women. Instead, add a separate question asking if the respondent describes themselves as transgender.
- Try to minimize the use of the phrasing “identifies as” (e.g. “identifies as a woman”). This can reinforce how society treats identities that hold more power and privilege over others as more objective and real, while others are considered objectionable and niche.
- Allow for the selection of multiple sexual or gender identities and an option to self-report an identity that is not listed.
- Consider defining gender and sexuality below the survey questions to increase clarity.
- Visibility Counts: Corporate Guidelines for LGBT+ Self-ID (Out Leadership)
- Collecting LGBT+ Data for Diversity: Initiating Self-ID at IBM (Case Study)
- Do Ask, Do Tell: Capturing Data on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Globally (Stonewall)
- Principles for Building a Solid Foundation for Self-ID Data Collection: Expertise from Gretchen Ruck, AlixPartners, LLP
- Celebrate Pride Month! ADP Promotes Diversity and Inclusion with LGBTQ Employee Self-Identification
Gender Inclusive Restrooms and Facilities
Too often, restroom policies and infrastructure are unintentionally discriminatory or overly politicized. Through thoughtful design and inclusive policy-writing, you can create a workplace where everyone feels safe and supported in using the most appropriate and affirming restroom or facility.
- Explicitly communicate that all team members are entitled to use the restroom and facilities that align with their gender identity. Clearly label all-gender facilities on maps. When choosing event spaces or partners for benefits like gym memberships, inquire about gender-inclusive restroom infrastructure and policy.
- Convert any single-stall restroom into an all-gender facility. Depending on available infrastructure and budget, organizations should create all-gender multi-stall restrooms and changing facilities in addition to single-gender restrooms and changing facilities, prioritizing privacy in their designs.
- Cost-effective strategies for implementing gender-inclusive restrooms include extending stall doors from floor to ceiling to enhance privacy, ensuring each stall door has a reliable lock, and adding a lock to the multi-stall restroom entrance to allow usage by one person at a time.
- Use legally compliant signage that adheres to directives around accessibility and does not imply any exclusive messages about gender. Use signage that clearly communicates that the restroom is inclusive of all genders and avoid images that depict people altogether. In a Western context, some designers have used pictograms of a toilet along with the words “all gender restroom.” Alternatively, a hand-wash symbol is a good candidate for a universal restroom symbol - sensitive to the delicate subject nature, but linked to a basic restroom action.
- Stalled! Inclusive Restroom Design
- Transgender People & Bathroom Access (National Center for Transgender Equality
- Why We Need Gender-Neutral Bathrooms (Ivan Coyote)
- A Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers (OSHA)
- Leading Practices for Restroom Access (Out & Equal)
Gender Inclusive Dress Codes
Written into many organization dress codes are discriminatory and bias-laden professional expectations that inhibit LGBTQIA2+ team members from bringing their whole selves to work. Dress codes should never stigmatize or discipline a team member for who they are.
Try to empower team members to manage their own appearance in accordance with professional expectations and ensure that professional expectations are never gendered.
- Establish dress code rules as they relate to articles of clothing, not gender.
- Do not use gendered pronouns in the policy.
- Make sure that any grooming guidelines could apply to anyone.
- For example, General Motors replaced their 10-page dress code with two words: "Dress appropriately."
- For casual workplaces, companies can simply ban clothing with hate speech, profanity, or exclusionary language.
- Why Workplaces Should Have Gender Neutral Dress Codes (Power To Fly)
- Why I’m Genderqueer, Professional and Unafraid
- 5 Crucial Components for Creating an Inclusive Dress Code
- 3 Tips to Keep Discrimination Out of Your Dress Code Policy
Gender Transition/Affirmation Policy
Gender transition/affirmation can be an incredibly vulnerable time in a transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, or nonconforming person’s life. This courageous and joyful journey toward authenticity can be hampered due to anxieties about job security, adverse workplace treatment, and how to communicate or even begin transition in the workplace. It is the duty of employers to have processes and policies in place that will facilitate a workplace transition for their transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, and nonconforming team members that can be customized to their desires and comfort levels.
- There is no singular moment where a transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, or nonconforming person ceases to live as one gender and begins to live in their authentic gender. Transition is also not always binary. Everyone should always be treated as the gender they identify as regardless of legal documents, medical transition, or their sex assigned at birth.
- The policy should require team members to treat transitioning team members with dignity and respect, referring to them by their chosen name and appropriate pronouns, regardless of religious beliefs or political affiliations.
- It should be the sole right of the transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, or nonconforming person to decide whether to share their gender and how they want this information communicated to their team. There should be no expectation that the transitioning team member or team member going through a gender-affirming process needs to share that they are doing so unless necessary for legal purposes. Their status as transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, or non-conforming should be kept confidential until the team member decides if they want to share more with the team.
- Affirming gender diversity should be part of the education and training of management and other team members, so there is a baseline knowledge around leading practices.
- Some team members may have a more fluid sense of their gender and how they want to express it day-to-day. Thus, they may have a different and less fixed set of expectations for their co-workers. They may want to express that they are going through an ongoing discernment process that does not have any answers yet, but will involve them exploring their gender in different ways personally and professionally.
- Have a process in place for changing official records in the case of legal transition and social transition. Any record that does not require a legal name should be easily amended to a team member’s chosen name. Check out Mozilla’s Workplace Transition Guidelines for a clearer sense of the tools, profiles, and attributions that may need to be updated (e.g. Slack, Microsoft Teams, email, name plate, access badge, authorship recognitions, directories, payroll, health insurance, etc.) If the organization has the available budget, they can also assist the team member with their legal name and gender change.
- Establish a process for transitioning team members to work with their direct supervisor, HR staff, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) members, People leaders, LGBTQIA2+ Employee Resource Group (ERG) leaders, or other appropriate stakeholders to create an individually-tailored plan for their workplace transition and have support throughout their transition.
- Inquire how, when, or if team members want to have an official communication to share that they are going through a gender-affirming process.
- Be open to different ways team members may want to communicate their transition. For example, some team members prefer for their direct supervisor to communicate any important details to the team. Others may want to communicate all relevant details themselves via an email or meeting to make the process more personable and humanizing. Others may want to use both methods with an appropriate representative sharing organizational expectations and policies (e.g. anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, anti-bullying, etc.).
- Accessibly feature your gender transition/affirmation policy so transitioning team members know who their initial point of contact is and how to plan in accordance with their personal circumstances and wishes. In this policy, it is usually helpful to define different gender-related terminology so it’s accessible and easily understood by people outside of the LGBTQIA2+ community who may not be familiar with the language.
- Model Transgender Employment Policy (Transgender Law Center)
- Gender Transition Guidelines (Human Rights Campaign)
- Workplace Transition Policy Guidelines (Mozilla)
- Workplace Gender Identity & Transition Guidelines (Out & Equal)
- Creating a Trans-Inclusive Workplace (Harvard Business Review)
- Managing Gender Transition in the Workplace (Society for Human Resource Management)
- Transitioning Employers: Survey of Policies & Practices (Gender and The Economy)
While a global mindset is vital in today’s markets, and many team members will excitedly take a career opportunity abroad, these decisions are much more fraught for LGBTQIA2+ team members. It's important to consider the varying levels of severity in LGBTQIA2+ struggles worldwide, especially in areas where you conduct business.
- The level of outness of LGBTQIA2+ professionals vary significantly from country to country. In some countries, queer relationships are still criminalized, heavily stigmatized, and more likely to spark violence, harassment, persecution, and prejudice.
- Trans and non-binary people’s legal documents might not align with their gender, making travel and immigration more difficult.
- Having to cover or conceal your LGBTQIA2+ identity can drastically decrease your quality of life, cause psychological distress, and impede productivity. According to the Coqual (Formerly the Center for Talent Innovation), 70% of LGBTQIA2+ professionals in China and 67% of LGBTQIA2+ professionals in India are not out.
- Communicate that LGBTQIA2+ team members will not face any career detriment if they decline an international post.
- Ensure that any LGBTQIA2+ inclusive healthcare (e.g. Hormone Replacement Therapy) is available or can be continued on an international assignment and help to fill in those gaps wherever possible.
- Consider the legal and cultural climate of a region for the LGBTQIA2+ community in risk assessments for international posts.
- Provide LGBTQIA2+ team members and their families with active immigration support. Some countries might not recognize the spouses or children of LGBTQIA2+ people, causing immigration headaches and making an international assignment not feasible or requiring some form of family separation. If an LGBTQIA2+ team member takes an international post where they must be separated from family, provide additional travel funds for them to return home periodically.
- Compensate for tax breaks that same-gender couples might not be eligible to receive.
- Infographic: What Is Covering? (Catalyst)
- Out in the World (Coqual, Formerly Center for Talent Innovation)
- The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association - World
- Rainbow Europe (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Intersex Association)
- A New Global Acceptance Index for LGBT People
- Trans Legal Mapping Report (ILGA - World)
- OutRight Action International
- LGBTQIA2+ Inclusiveness: Toolkit for Inclusive Municipalities (UNESCO)
- Free & Equal (United Nations)
Designing LGBTQIA2+ Inclusive Benefits
To be truly inclusive of LGBTQIA2+ households, organizations should have benefits available to the domestic partners of team members. Making organization benefits that are only accessible through marriage will adversely impact queer and heterosexual couples alike.
- Marriage equality is not a global reality. Moreover, not all LGBTQIA2+ people or even heterosexual couples want to participate in an institution that has a history of exclusion and specific legal obligations.
- Restricting benefits to spouses essentially coerces team members to make a very personal decision that might not align with their values or puts them in danger.
- Public marriage records can “out” LGBTQIA2+ people leaving them open to discrimination.
Ensure all benefits afforded to spouses (ex: health insurance, workplace leaves, retirement, etc.) are equivalent for domestic partners.
- Human Rights Campaign Encourages Business Community to Maintain Domestic Partnership Benefits
- Benefits for Domestic Partners (University of California)
- 6 Misconceptions in Companies that Offer Domestic Partner Benefits
- Domestic Partnership Benefits (GLAD)
Workplaces should recognize the diversity of family arrangements within the LGBTQIA2+ community and modern society. LGBTQIA2+ individuals are less likely to forge families through the same biological or legal routes as others.
- Chosen families are families that are deliberately chosen for mutual love and support that fall outside the dominant nuclear family model. Chosen families may include close friends that are considered the equivalent of family, partners, extended kin, in-laws, housemates, close neighbours, and unrelated persons in someone’s care, among others.
- The LGBTQIA2+ community still faces disproportionate rates of family rejection. As a result, there is a predominance of youth homelessness and reliance on personalized networks of kinship.
- LGBTQIA2+ people might feel distant from their immediate family because they cannot be their authentic selves around them. Chosen families have also been found to be an important layer of social protection for people with disabilities, immigrants, single parents, and other marginalized communities.
- Establish family leave policies (parental, sick, safe, bereavement, etc.) and benefits that are inclusive of domestic partnerships and chosen family, and not restricted to spouses and legal guardians.
- Include non-birth fathers, non-birth mothers, and adoptive or foster parents in parental leave policies.
- Enable team members to define who their “loved ones” are beyond blood relatives and marriage.
- How Has the Definition of Family Evolved? Who’s In, and Who’s Trusted? MassMutual Takes a Pulse Across Generations
- MassMutual Significantly Expands Suite of Employee Benefits
- Employers are Expanding Parental Leave and Other PTO Benefits (SHRM)
- A Mutual Benefit: Letting Employees Define their Families (Pride Source)
- Family Matters: Guide to Defining Family Inclusively in Workplace Leave Laws and Policies
- Making Paid Leave Work for Every Family (Center for American Progress)
- Chosen Family Law Center
Not all health insurance plans will cover gender affirming medicines for trans, non-binary, genderfluid, and nonconforming team members. It is up to the employer to make trans-inclusivity a crucial consideration on par with other criteria when selecting which healthcare plan(s) to offer in benefits packages.
- Employers should make sure that at least one of the healthcare plans they offer to team members is trans-inclusive and covers a variety of gender affirming treatments, therapies, and surgical procedures.
- Where certain trans-inclusive procedures or coverage are contested as medically necessary (e.g. facial feminization/masculinization surgery, tracheal shave, electrolysis, laser hair removal, voice therapy/surgery, breast augmentation, mastectomy, chest contouring, phalloplasty, scrotoplasty, vaginoplasty, hormones, breastfeeding/chest feeding support, body feminization/masculinization, etc.), employers should ensure that these costs are affordable and do not fall solely on the team member.
- More Employers are Covering Transgender Health Benefits
- An In-Depth Look at LGBTQ+ Benefits
- Health Insurance Coverage for Gender-Affirming Care of Transgender Patients (American Medical Association)
- Transgender Health Benefits: Negotiating for Inclusive Coverage (Transgender Law Center)
- Transgender Inclusive Healthcare Coverage CEI Resources
- Transgender-Inclusive Benefits: Questions Employers Should Ask
Many fertility benefits are only offered after infertility has been diagnosed through a doctor’s examination and invasive testing. These benefits are also often unavailable to LGBTQIA2+ team members who are disqualified from them since they cannot biologically reproduce with their partner.
- Fertility benefits should cover “social infertility” or infertility that is shaped by a person’s relationships and circumstances rather than a purely physiological diagnosis.
- Fertility benefits should cover fertility preservation for transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, and nonconforming individuals prior to any gender affirming therapies or procedures, such as freezing eggs, sperm, or embryos.
- Fertility benefits should cover queer-specific procedures such as reciprocal In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) or when one person’s egg is fertilized and implanted into their partner’s uterus.
- Fertility benefits should not be gender specific. For example, a transgender man should still be able to freeze his egg cells or have access to intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatments.
In 2019, J.P. Morgan expanded fertility benefits so that team members in the U.S. without a medical diagnosis of infertility can have up to $30,000 worth of treatments including in vitro fertilization and reimbursement for costs related to surrogacy.
- LGBTQ+ Family Building Infographic
- J.P. Morgan is Expanding Fertility Benefits to Help LGBTQ Employees Have Families
- The Labels of Infertility (WINFertility)
- LGBTQ Family Building Survey (Family Equality Council)
Co-Creating a Culture of Inclusion
We must strive for intersectionality in LGBTQIA2+ inclusion efforts to not disproportionately prioritize a certain segment of the community and neglect those most at the margins. LGBTQIA2+ pride symbolism has evolved to reflect this need for intersectionality.
Our eLearning has an entire module focused on “Identities, Privilege, and Intersectionality” that you won’t want to pass up!
The original rainbow flag was supposed to represent the whole queer community, but activists found that the struggles and voices of racialized LGBTQIA2+ were left unaddressed and their challenges exacerbated by other members of the community.
The “More Color, More Pride” flag incorporates black and brown stripes as reminders of racialized LGBTQIA2+ people and their unique experiences.
The “Progress” Pride flag, created by Daniel Quasar (they/them), builds on this initiative to also spotlight the transgender community by adding the blue, pink, and white stripes of the transgender flag.
- Recognize the importance of intersectionality in how you support team members, develop programming, create DEI initiatives, collect data, and market your brand.
- Adopt the “Progress Pride” flag as your official rainbow-related symbolism to signal your organization’s commitment to promoting greater inclusion in LGBTQIA2+ communities and the overlapping identities of your queer team members.
- Take an intersectional approach when analyzing team member survey data and other metrics considering people with multiple identities experiencing marginalization without compromising their privacy or anonymity.
- Remember to challenge stereotypes about the LGBTQIA2+ community and their identities at work and in media. LGBTQIA2+ people can also be members and leaders of faith communities traditionally thought of as exclusionary toward LGBTQIA2+ people (e.g. Islam, Catholicism, Orthodox Judaism, etc.). Further, queer, transgender, and non-binary people exist across all ages, such as people of advanced age. Additionally, not all queer people are gender nonconforming.
- Keep in mind that there is a significant portion of the transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, and nonconforming community that is also neurodivergent. Workplaces should always take an intersectional approach to inclusion or certain members of the LGBTQIA2+ community will be left behind.
- 40+ Dimensions of Diversity and the Many Intersections
- Shifting Beyond a Gender-Only Approach: The Case for Intersectionality
- A Broken Bargain for LGBTQ Workers of Color (Movement Advancement Project)
- Broken Bargain for Transgender Workers (Movement Advancement Project)
- Beyond the Rainbow: Your Complete Guide to Pride Flags
- LGBT People with Disabilities (Movement Advancement Project)
- Bisexual People Deserve Respect at Their Workplaces
- Coming Out: Living Authentically as Black LGBTQ People (Human Rights Campaign)
- Why It’s Impossible to be Pro-LGBTQ Without Being Anti-Racist
- 75 LGBT+ Groups Join Coalition in Support of Black Lives Matter
- Public Attitudes Toward Aging Sexual and Gender Minorities Around the World (SAGE)
- Serving LGBTQ Immigrants and Building Welcoming Communities (Center For American Progress)
Team member surveys are an important tool for analyzing workplace disparities affecting different demographics, departments, and levels of leadership at your organization. Beyond the recruitment, retention, and promotion figures that you will get from Self-ID programs, these surveys can provide a more colourful and textured picture relating to the experiences, attitudes, and struggles of your LGBTQIA2+ workforce.
- Organization-wide climate surveys can show specific questions regarding LGBTQIA2+ experiences at work depending on what demographics are checked in the survey.
- Consider questions that get at the level of “outness” of your workforce, what respondents believe would help them succeed or feel included at work, and the degree to which people have witnessed or experienced bias or discrimination relating to their sexuality or their gender.
- Ensure that data is properly anonymized if it would effectively disclose the identity of a respondent. For example, one Indigenous pansexual person in the sales department.
- Try to capture data on how specific members of the LGBTQIA2+ community are doing and be intentional about taking an intersectional approach to data collection and analysis. For example, the experience of a Latinx trans woman will be different from a white cis gay man.
- Include demographic questions around sexuality and gender on surveys in countries where it is legal to do so.
- Include a mix of Likert scale questions, open-ended questions, and fixed answer questions. This will give you tangible numbers to assess alongside more rich qualitative data around LGBTQIA2+ workplace experiences.
- Integrate insights from periodic climate surveys into your organization’s DEI strategy and programming.
- Getting LGBT+ Inclusion Right in Employee Surveys (IBM)
- A Workplace Divided: Understanding the Climate for LGBTQ Workers Nationwide The Indian LGBT Workplace Climate Survey 2016
- Respectful Collection of Demographic Data
- Getting the Truth into Workplace Surveys (Harvard Business Review)
- Managing Employee Surveys (SHRM)
- Behind every pronoun is a person. Using someone’s pronouns is one of the most basic ways to show them dignity and respect. When someone is referred to with the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, or even suicidal. Canadian courts have even ruled misgendering as a human rights violation in light of these realities.
- If you have trouble with someone’s pronouns, practice them on your own time. Gender neutral pronouns have existed for centuries, are endorsed by leading style and grammar authorities, and, regardless, are a non-negotiable way to respect your team members who embrace them.
- Remember that you cannot know someone’s pronouns just from how they present themselves. Do not assume someone’s pronouns until they have been shared with you. Someone’s outward appearance, name, voice, and gender expression is not enough to tell us how they truly feel inside.
- It is not uncommon for folks to have multiple sets of pronouns that resonate with them. When encountering people who embrace pronouns like She/They, He/They, and the like, be affirming and respectful, such as not just defaulting to the pronoun that feels easier for you.
- Some languages are more gendered than others and require a greater shift from traditional speech. If you conduct your business in multiple languages, we encourage you to research how to use gender neutral language accordingly as Western conceptions are not always universal or welcome. For example, the Swedish government officially recognizes the gender neutral pronoun “hen,” Spanish speakers sometimes replace the masculine “o” or feminine “a” ending of a word with the gender neutral “e,” and ”iel” is one of the most common non-binary pronouns in French.
- Include pronouns in introductions, email signatures, videoconferencing usernames, nametags, and organization biographies in solidarity with trans, non-binary, genderfluid, and nonconforming team members. Pronoun sharing is not only beneficial for people of genders experiencing marginalization, but also helps ensure that people with gender-neutral names or people with names from different cultures are gendered correctly.
- Commit to correcting your team members when they misgender someone. Take intentional misgendering or apathy toward correct pronoun usage seriously and create a policy that requires constructive or disciplinary action.
- Do not make sharing pronouns mandatory. Share your own pronouns to proactively create space for others if they feel comfortable sharing too. Some trans people may not be ready to share their gender or fear discrimination if they do so. Focus your efforts on creating a culture where stating one’s pronouns is welcome, common, and visible across departments and leadership.
- Before you know someone's pronouns, one of the safest actions you can take is to just use the person's chosen name. Some transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, and nonconforming people might want to forgo pronouns altogether and prefer team members only refer to them with their chosen name.
- What’s Your Pronoun? Strategies for Inclusion in the Workplace (Out & Equal)
- Minus18 Pronoun Practice Application
- Why Pronoun-Sharing is Important but Must Remain Optional
- Incorporating Gender Neutral Pronouns in UX Design Across Languages
- A Guide to How Gender-Neutral Language is Developing Around the World
- Gender Neutral Pronouns in French
- Why You Should Not Say 'Preferred Pronouns'
- WikiGender (A collective Feminist and Non-Binary glossary in Arabic)
- The Hebrew Non-Binary Project
Language shapes our world and is a fundamental aspect of communicating and relating to one another. Adopting new and more affirming terminology may take some practice and feel unnatural at first. However, you never know who you might be signalling to that you care and are committed to making space for them. Inclusive language does ask something of us. It asks us to change longstanding habits and consider lived experiences distinct from our own.
Check out Feminuity’s Inclusive Language Guide for tips for communicating more inclusively about people of different genders, sexualities, family compositions, and transgender and non-binary experiences. If you want a more engaging learning experience on inclusive language, pronouns, etc. check out Feminuity’s Level-UP elearning, which dedicates an entire module to these practices.
- Inclusive Language (LGBTQ Equity Center, University of Maryland)
- Language & Inclusion: An Analysis Across Industries (Feminuity)
- Inclusive Language Guide
- An Incomplete Guide to Inclusive Language
- 70 Language Principles That Will Make You A More Successful Recruiter (Part 1)
- 70 Language Principles That Will Make You A More Successful Recruiter (Part 2)
There are many actions that your organization can take to better appeal to queer job seekers and intentionally incorporate LGBTQIA2+ diversity into your recruitment pipelines.
- Gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, and sex characteristics should be explicitly mentioned in your anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. Feature your commitment to DEI prominently on your careers page and explicitly mention LGBTQIA2+ diversity. Ensure there is queer representation in both your internal and external marketing communications to promote positive brand reputation and team member feedback. Use gender-neutral language in job postings and incorporate an inclusivity statement that lists gender identity, gender expression, sex characteristics, and sexuality in all job postings.
- Use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that is gender inclusive and incorporates optional fields for chosen names and pronouns and spaces for voluntary self-identification.
- Partner with LGBTQIA2+ professional organizations and request tables at their conferences. For example, Out & Equal, Out for Undergrad, Reaching Out MBA, Pride at Work, Pride at Work Canada, Out Leadership, Out Professionals, Out in Tech, myGwork, OutBüro, and NGLCC.
- Build relationships with LGBTQIA2+ student organizations at key universities as part of your talent pipelines and host on-campus recruitment events for queer students.
- Compensate LGBTQIA2+ leaders at your organization to attend your general recruiting events that can speak to your organization's culture and demonstrate the different types of people welcomed at your organization.
- Seek to address recruitment, hiring, and promotional disparities for LGBTQIA2+ team members at all levels of your organization, from junior-level roles to senior leadership positions and Board seats.
Include LGBTQIA2+ diversity in:
- Organization-specific professional development opportunities, leadership programs, and conferences.
- The education and training of all team members, especially executives, middle and senior managers, recruiters, and HR professionals.
- Supplier/vendor diversity programs.
- Team member referral bonuses for recommending candidates from communities experiencing marginalization and underrepresentation.
- Internship or hiring programs for communities experiencing underrepresentation and marginalization.
- Interview panels and hiring committees.
- The design of recruitment-related policies, practices, and procedures.
- 20 Steps to an Out & Equal Workplace
- How to Promote LGBTQ Equality in Your Recruitment Process (ERE)
- How to Be a Company that Attracts LGBTQ Professionals (Monster)
- 5 Ways Recruiters Can Be an LGBTQ+ Career Ally (EPM Scientific)
- Amazing Companies That Champion LGBTQ Equality Hiring Now (Glassdoor)
- Is Your Recruitment Process & Workplace LGBTQIA2+ Inclusive? (VSource)
- Hiring Across All Spectrums (Pride At Work Canada)
Maximizing Employee Resource Group (ERG) Impact
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-led groups to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizations they serve. ERGs can be amazing spaces for queer employees to share their struggles in the workplace, find community, discover mentors/sponsors, professionally develop, acclimate to a new workplace, and catalyze inclusive policy and culture changes at an organization.
- If you haven’t established an ERG for LGBTQIA2+ employees, ensure it has an executive sponsor. An executive sponsor is an influential and respected leader who can be designated to mentor and advocate on behalf of the ERG to the executive team.
- If you are finding gaps in representation in your LGBTQIA2+ ERG (e.g. bisexual people, transgender team members, racialized LGBTQIA2+ people, Two-Spirit employees, etc.), host targeted programming geared toward specific communities so they can view themselves in your content and know that they are welcome.
- Beyond being a vital community resource for LGBTQIA2+ employees, ERGs can collaborate with marketing teams to produce queer-inclusive content. This content may include recognizing LGBTQIA2+ times of significance like Pride Month, forging strategic partnerships to help create LGBTQIA2+ talent pipelines, and becoming civically engaged.
- Collaborate with other organization’s ERGs to create intersectional programming.
- If you want allies at ERG events, be explicit and express that they can join. You can even appoint an “Ally Ambassador” position. Leveraging allies can amplify your message of inclusion by giving your ERG energized advocates across your organization. Conversely, if you are hosting an event that is supposed to be an intentionally safer/braver space for LGBTQIA2+ people, be explicit about that too.
- Establish mentorship programs for members of your ERG and reverse-mentoring programs to help educate leadership in your organization.
- A New LGBTQ Workforce Has Arrived—Inclusive Cultures Must Follow
- Five Fundamentals of Equitable ERGs (Feminuity)
- ERG 100: Getting Started and Getting Going (SAP)
- Leveraging Intersectionality: 5 Ways to Drive ERG Participation (Whirlpool)
- LGBTQ ERG’s (Diversity Best Practices)
- What Are Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)?
Companies have tremendous power to create an LGBTQIA2+ inclusive workplace and translate these values into broader society. Leverage your organization’s voice to create meaningful change for queer communities and send a clear message that you are an ally in creating a world that celebrates sexual and gender diversity.
- Participate in annual pride celebrations and other LGBTQIA2+ cultural events.
- Release formal statements condemning any legislation that infringes on LGBTQIA2+ rights in the regions you operate. If relevant, cease political donations to those in favour of such legislation (e.g. drag bans, gender-affirming care bans, book and education bans, anti-trans legislation, etc.)
- Support LGBTQIA2+ advocacy organizations by including them in organization donation-match programs, corporate social responsibility initiatives, philanthropic giving, and organization volunteer initiatives.
- Show up for LGBTQIA2+ rights domestically and in other international areas of operation.
- Be vocal on your platforms about LGBTQIA2+ issues year-round.
- Recognize LGBTQIA2+ related days and times of significance beyond pride such as Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), International Pronouns Day, Pansexual Day of Visibility, International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, and more!
- Supporting Sexual and Gender Diversity in the Workplace (Feminuity)
- Standards of Conduct for Business on Tackling Discrimination against LGBTI People (United Nations)
- Building Effective Corporate Engagement on LGBTQ Rights (MIT)
- Business Coalition for the Equality Act (Human Rights Campaign)
- Trans-Inclusive Design
- Designing LGBTQIA2+ Inclusive Policies & Benefit
- Best Practices for Non-Binary Inclusion in the Workplace (Out & Equal)
- 2022 HRC Corporate Equality Index
- LGBTQ Employees and the COVID-19 Pandemic (Out & Equal)
- Working Beyond the Gender Binary (Gender & The Economy)
- Workforce 2020: LGBTQ (Guardian)
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Workplace Issues: Quick Take (Catalyst)
- The Business Case for Pride in Diversity
- Accelerating Acceptance 2017 (GLAAD)
- How the LGBTQ+ Community Fares in the Workplace (McKinsey)
- 2019 Workplace Equality Fact Sheet (Out & Equal)
- 2015 US Transgender Survey
- Trans Student Education Resources (TSER)
- Building Trans-Inclusive Workplaces (Public Service Alliance of Canada)
- Beyond Diversity: An LGBT Best Practice Guide (Pride at Work Canada)
- Supporting Intersex Inclusion in the Workplace (Out & Equal)
Learning With Feminuity
Inspired to get further educated and embrace LGBTQIA2+ inclusion at your workplace? Our education services are offered in-person, remotely, and across all platforms. Choose from over 40 topics and check out our LGBTQIA2+ focused sessions.
This resource is not meant to be a static guide, but rather a compilation and reflection of our learnings to date. Everything changes - from technologies and innovations to social norms, cultures, languages, and more. We’ll continue to update this resource with your feedback; email us at email@example.com with suggestions.
About The Author
Keith Plummer, MSc, BA, SHRM-CP
Director of Research & Learning
Give Credit Where Credit's Due
If you wish to reference this work, please use the following citation:
Plummer, K. A Guide to LGBTQIA2+ Inclusion in the Workplace.