Two members of the LGBTQIA2+ community holdings hands

Reimagining Your Workplace in Rainbow

A Guide to LGBTQIA2+ Inclusion for HR, People, and DEI Leaders 🌈

Table of Contents for Easier Navigation

From policies to benefits to workplace culture, this guide provides a first-of-its-kind exploration of leading practices that will revolutionize workplaces by putting LGBTQIA2+ considerations front and centre.


The Future is Fluid and In Colour

With greater visibility and awareness around sexual and gender diversity alongside meaningful cultural change and civil rights victories, many organizations are now asking the vital question of how they can best support LGBTQIA2+ team members.


There is growing recognition that workplaces must integrate queer-inclusivity across their everyday business operations and company policies to stay competitive and profitable and attract top talent.


Of course, an even more critical reason for these transformations beyond the standard “business case” is the desire to create safer and more affirming work environments that actively contribute to a more just world while successfully generating revenue.


As more and more studies and surveys illustrate, LGBTQIA2+ inclusion should be a priority for any organization. Unfortunately, queer team members are often reluctant to share their identity or actively take measures to downplay or hide who they are. This significantly impacts their productivity, psychological safety, and ability to imagine themselves at an organization long-term.


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, and these numbers are even more worrying for transgender people, especially racialized trans people.

With these realities and sources of marginalization in mind, a sizeable majority of people report being more likely to support or take a job at a business that has anti-discrimination measures in place for sexuality and gender identity/expression.


Finally, Generation Z composes more and more of the global workforce each year and is the queerest cohort yet. One-third of Generation Z describes their sexuality as not exclusively heterosexual and 35% have stated that they know someone who uses gender neutral pronouns. A recent poll from Gallup found that 1 in 5 members of Generation Z identify as LGBTQIA2+. In addition, people in their twenties are nearly twice as likely to identify as LGBTQIA2+ than the generation prior.


This resource, at its core, is an effort to create a comprehensive overview of leading policies and practices relating to LGBTQIA2+ workplace inclusion. It can serve as a reference and potential launching point for Human Resources (HR), People, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) leaders, departments, and advocates. 

From LGBTQIA2+ Self-ID programs to your company strategy around sharing pronouns, this document provides key considerations to keep at the forefront in fostering LGBTQIA2+ inclusion throughout your policies, benefits, and organizational culture

Each section provides additional articles and thought leadership for anyone interested in delving deeper into the various topics and areas covered. This resource serves to centre queer needs and experiences in your HR and People operations, keeping your organization at the cutting-edge of inclusion and better equipping your team to promote a sense of fairness and belonging in your future workforce.

Too often, unjust politicization and sensationalism relegate sexual and gender diversity to the shadows of office initiatives. Our sexual and gender identities are fundamental parts of who we are - company policies and procedures should be designed not only to accommodate but to celebrate them. 

As a global strategy firm in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Feminuity wants to ensure through this publication that sexuality and gender diversity remain critical intersections that professionals advocate for, educate about, and align their operations around.

Building a Shared Language: Glossary of Terms

Disclaimer: This list is 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.

Asexual

An identity term for people who either do not feel sexual attraction or do not feel desire for a sexual partner or partners. Unlike celibacy, which is a choice to abstain from sexual activity, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who asexual people are, just like other sexualities. Some asexual individuals may still have romantic attractions.

Bisexual

A term referring to a person who has the capacity to form enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions to those of the same gender and those of different genders. People may experience this attraction in differing ways and degrees over their lifetime. People often abbreviate bisexual to bi.

Bi+

An umbrella term encompassing the many different identities that refer to an experience of attraction to more than one gender or non-monosexuality: bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer, polysexual, omnisexual, “no labels,” and others. Though not the same, these identities face similar struggles and are vulnerable to biphobia.

Biphobia

The irrational hatred or fear of people who identify as being attracted to more than one gender, such as bisexual, pansexual, queer, or fluid communities.

Cisgender

Referring to a person who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth. Often abbreviated as cis.

Cissexism

The system of oppression that values cisgender people, upholds the gender binary, and marginalizes, oppresses, and makes invisible the lives and experiences of transgender and non-binary people.

Covering

This is when someone intentionally behaves, communicates, or dresses in a manner that conceals or downplays their identity as a member of the LGBTQIA2+ community or another community experiencing marginalization. This is often done out of the fear that being authentic will affect their reputation and treatment with team members and inhibit their career opportunities. People are less likely to cover in situations where they feel safe, affirmed, and valued.

Demisexual

Referring to a person who only experiences sexual attraction after an emotional bond is formed.

Gay

Term referring to people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction is to people of the same gender (e.g., gay man, gay people). Sometimes lesbian is the preferred term for women. This is the preferred term to homosexual.

Gender

Socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society deems masculine or feminine. This social construct is often linked to and confused with the biological construct of sex.

Gender-Affirming Process

 

Refers to an interpersonal, interactive process whereby a person goes through gender-related changes (e.g. medical, legal, social, relational, spiritual, personal, presentational, expressive, etc.) and receives social recognition and support.

Gender Binary

A social construction of gender in which there are two distinct and opposite genders determined by biological sex: male/masculine/men and female/feminine/women. The gender binary erases the experiences of intersex, non-binary, and Third Gender people.

Gender Expression

A person’s presentation of their gender. These outward expressions of gender can be intentional or unintentional, and involve one’s mannerisms, hair, speech, clothing, and activities (and more). Gender expression is generally made sense of on scales of masculinity, femininity, and androgyny which vary historically and by culture.

Gender Identity

A person’s deeply felt and innate sense of their own gender: being a man, a woman, a girl, a boy, non-binary, fluid, in between, or outside of the gender binary. This may or may not correspond to the gender they were assigned at birth.

Gender-Neutral/Gender-Inclusive Pronouns

A gender neutral or gender inclusive pronoun is a pronoun that does not associate a gender with the individual who is being discussed. The most common gender neutral pronouns in the English language are They, Them, Theirs, but different people embrace other gender neutral pronouns such as Ze, Hir, Hirs.

Genderqueer

An identity term for a person who may not identify with and/or express themselves within the gender binary.

Heterosexism

The individual, societal, cultural, and institutional beliefs and practices that favour heterosexuality and assume that heterosexuality is the only natural, normal, or acceptable sexual orientation.

Homophobia

The irrational fear, hatred, and intolerance of people who identify as or are perceived as gay or lesbian.

Intersectionality 

An intersectional approach recognizes that identities (e.g., “queer” and “immigrant”) do not exist independently of each other and that each informs the others. Intersectionality recognizes that people have overlapping identities and lived experiences which complicates their experiences of prejudice and oppression.

Intersex

Intersex is an umbrella term referring to people who carry variations in their reproductive and sexual anatomy that differ from what is traditionally considered “male” or “female.” These differences can be relating to external genitalia, internal reproductive organs, chromosomes, hormones, and other secondary sex characteristics that develop later in life. This is the preferred term to hermaphrodite.

Lesbian

An identity term for women who are attracted to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay or as gay women.

Mx.

Mx., pronounced as “mix” or “miks,” is an honorific (i.e., Mr., Ms., Mrs., etc.) that is gender neutral. It is often the title of choice for folks who do not identify within the gender binary. E.g., Mx. Jefferson is a great teacher.

Non-Binary

Term referring to people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman. There are several other terms used to describe gender identities outside of the man/woman binary such as genderqueer, non-conforming, gender expansive, agender, bigender, and more. Non-binary people may or may not identify as transgender.

Nonconforming

 

Refers to individuals whose do not adhere to society's gender norms. People may describe themselves as nonconforming if they don't conform to the gender expression, presentation, behaviours, roles, or expectations set forth for what is assumed to be their gender. People who are nonconforming do not necessarily ascribe to a particular label or can reject gender-related labels altogether.

Out

Out refers to a state of being after someone has publicly disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity. This process is usually known as “coming out.” Coming out is an ongoing process for LGBTQIA2+ people who will make decisions throughout their life regarding which circles and spaces they feel comfortable sharing their identity in. “Outing” someone is when a group or individual shares the queer identity of another person without their consent which is a violation of their privacy and can open them up to stigma, prejudice, and discrimination.

Pansexual

Describes a person who experiences enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to members of all gender identities/expressions: men, women, non-binary people, transgender individuals, and genderqueer folks.

Queer

A term for individuals whose gender identity/expression and/or sexuality does not conform to societal norms. This reclaimed term is increasingly being used as an inclusive umbrella term for the LGBTQIA2+ community.

Questioning 

The process of exploring and discerning one’s own gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexuality. Some people may also use this term to name their identity within the LGBTQIA2+ community.

Sex Assigned at Birth

The sex originally listed on someone’s birth certificate that is typically assigned at birth based on a medical examination of the body. Usually classified as either male or female, however more and more jurisdictions are recognizing intersex characteristics as well. This designation usually determines the gender a child will be raised as.

Sexuality

A person’s sexual and emotional attractions, not necessarily dependent on behaviour. Terms associated with sexuality include gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, heterosexual, demisexual, asexual, and more!

Transgender

Umbrella term referring to persons who identify with a gender different than the one assigned to them at birth. Often abbreviated to trans.

Transition

Transitioning is the process of taking steps to live as one’s true gender identity. Transitioning is different for each individual, is not necessarily binary, and may or may not involve medical interventions like taking hormones or having surgery. Some people prefer the language “gender-affirming processes” to imply a less binary gender-related journey.

Transphobia 

The irrational fear, hatred, or intolerance of transgender people.

Two-Spirit

Umbrella term proposed in 1990 that bridges Indigenous and Western understandings of gender and sexuality. Two-Spirit refers to another role common among most North American Indigenous peoples, one that has a proper and respected position in most Native societies. Each nation’s understanding of sexual and gender diversity varies widely and is grounded in different spiritual beliefs.

Learn More

Asexuality Visibility & Education Network

Bisexual Resource Center

What ‘Cisgender' Means | NBC Out (Jacob Tobia)

4 Demisexual People Explain What "Demisexuality" Means To Them (Tinder)

InterAct: Advocates for Intersex Youth

Let's Talk About Intersex

What Is Intersectionality? | Queer 101 (The Advocate)

What is the Q? (Out & Equal)

It’s Time to Add 'Mx.' into the Daily Mix of Titles (USA Today)

Welcome Aboard, Mx. (United Airlines)

This Is What Gender-Nonbinary People Look Like (them.)

5 Non-Binary People Explain What “Non-Binary” Means to Them (Tinder)

What Does Pansexual Mean? (Time)

Why Respecting Pronouns Is So Important (NowThis)

Gender Unicorn (Trans Student Education Resources, TSER)

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)

Comprehensive* List of LGBTQ+ Vocabulary Definitions

LGBTQ Terminology (Out & Equal)

LGBTQIA Resource Center Glossary (UC Davis)

Leading Policy Practices

Human Resources Information System (HRIS), Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems, & Forms

There are many ways you can customize your Human Resources Information System (HRIS), Applicant Tracking System (ATS), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems & Forms to collect important information for legal compliance, reporting, business strategy, and team member metrics, while honouring the gender and sexual diversity of your current and incoming workforce.

Key Considerations

Choose an HRIS, ATS, and CRM that includes gender designations beyond the binary and allows you to customize fields. Workday is one example of a platform that models this sort of gender inclusivity.


Honorifics 


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.


Pronouns


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.

Names

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 company emails, name badges, website, daily interactions, etc.


Legal Compliance


If for reasons of legal compliance, you are required to collect binary gender information, you should:

  1. Be explicit as to why you must do so.
  2. Include additional fields for team members to list their gender and chosen name.


Implementation Recommendations


Feedback


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.


Government Agencies 


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.


Legal Implications 


In contexts such as 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 and U.S. states already enable legal non-binary gender registration including Denmark, India, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, California, and others. So, in some instances, 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 include “non-binary,” self-report, and “prefer not to answer” fields.


HRIS Form Examples

By UX Collective

HRIS Form Examples show a spot for "preferred name" and a spot to add gender information.


Learn More

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 sex-related characterics. 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+ employees that you care about their experiences and outcomes.

Key Considerations

Privacy

Must be voluntary and confidential. LGBTQIA2+ team members must be able to decide whether they want to share their personal data. The utmost care should be taken in making sure the data is secure and remains private.

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 member 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.

*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 the word’s complicated history. For more information, please check out What is the Q? by Out & Equal.


Implementation Recommendations


Assure


Assure team members that if they participate in the Self-ID program that this information will not be shared with their teams, managers, or peers.


Audit


Audit data privacy regulations and compliance procedures for each jurisdiction/country in which you conduct business.


Advance 


After launching a Self-ID program, continue to educate team members about the Self-ID option and benefits through internal company communications such as 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.


Additional Context


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 company. Having this data allows HR, People, & DEI leaders to set tangible goals and obtain concrete numbers that they can use to advocate to leadership.

 

Ideally, voluntary self-identification options for sexuality, gender, transgender status, and intersex status should be available in the following places:

  1. Applications
  2. Human Resources (HR) profiles
  3. Engagement/climate surveys


Structuring Self-ID Questions


  • Include a variety of gender identities beyond the binary and a breadth of sexual identities beyond “heterosexual” and “gay” / “lesbian.”
  • Keep questions relating to sexuality and gender separate. Gender is about who you are, and sexualityis about who you may be attracted to - do not conflate or mix the two.
  • Do not include categories like “trans man” or “trans woman.” Instead, add a separate question asking if the respondent identifies as transgender. 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.
  • 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.


Self-ID Gender Question Example

How would you describe your gender? Gender describes a person’s internal sense of gender, whether as a man, a woman, or something beyond the gender binary.


Select all that apply.

  • Agender (Agender individuals do not identify themselves as having a particular gender)
  • Bigender
  • Transfeminine
  • Genderfluid 
  • Gender Non-Conforming
  • Genderqueer
  • Man
  • Transmasculine
  • Non-Binary
  • Questioning 
  • Third Gender
  • Woman
  • Prefer not to answer
  • Another gender. Please specify __________


Do you or have you ever identified as transgender? Transgender is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.


Select from the following.

  • Yes
  • No 
  • Prefer not to answer 

Do you or have you ever identified as intersex? Intersex refers to people with characteristics that do not align with what is typically considered “male” or “female.”

 

Select from the following.

  • Yes
  • No 
  • Prefer not to answer


Self-ID Sexuality Question Example


How would you describe your sexuality?

This describes a person’s physical, romantic, or emotional attraction to other people in the world.


Select all that apply.

  • Asexual (An identity term for people who either do not feel sexual attraction or do not feel desire for a sexual partner or partners.)
  • Bisexual
  • Demisexual
  • Fluid
  • Gay
  • Heterosexual
  • Lesbian
  • Pansexual
  • Queer
  • Questioning 
  • Prefer not to answer
  • Another sexual identity. Please specify ___________


Learn More

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 & 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.

Key Considerations

Communicate

Policy should be explicit that all team members are entitled to use the restroom and facilities that align with their gender identity.

Companies should include bathroom locations on building maps with all-gender facilities clearly labelled.

In choosing conference and event spaces as well as partners for benefits like gym memberships, companies should take restroom infrastructure and policy into account and whether these are gender inclusive.

Invest In Your Values

Any single-stall restroom should be converted to an all-gender facility and not be designated for any one gender to be inclusive of non-binary and gender non-conforming team members.

Depending on available infrastructure and budget, companies should create all-gender multi-stall restrooms and changing facilities in addition to single-gender restrooms and changing facilities, prioritizing individual privacy in their designs.

It is a myth that single-gender spaces are safe by default and free from harassment. LGBTQIA2+ people especially know this to be true. The most effective way to mitigate liability and promote security is to embed individual privacy into restroom design. 

Cost-effective strategies for implementing introducing gender inclusive restrooms include:

Restroom and Facility Signage

Use This

All gender washroom sign

  • 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.


Instead of This

Gender neutral bathroom sign


  • This sign implies that non-binary people are half-man/woman, whereas many non-binary people think of their gender identity as fluid or beyond the man/woman framework.
  • It is also ableist in that all the persons depicted are physically non-disabled and sizeist because all persons depicted reflect only one type of shape/size of body.


Learn More

Stalled! Inclusive Restroom Design

Transgender People & Bathroom Access (National Center for Transgender Equality)

Good Practices: Inclusive Restrooms and Signage (University of Maryland)

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 company 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 an team member for who they are.

Key Considerations

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.

Learn More

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 around job security, fears of adverse workplace treatment, and confusion around how to communicate or even begin transition in an office environment. It is the duty of employers to have processes and policies in place that will give their transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, and nonconforming team members peace of mind and facilitate a workplace transition that is customized to their desires and comfort levels.


Key Considerations


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.


Respect


The policy should require team members to treat transitioning team member with dignity and respect, referring to them by their chosen name and appropriate pronouns, regardless of religious beliefs, prior history, or political affiliations.


Boundaries


It should be the sole right of the transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, or nonconforming person to decide whether to share their gender and, if so, how they want this information communicated to their teams.

 

There should be no requirement or 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 gives consent to disclose information or decides if they want to share more with the team.


Education


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.


Implementation Recommendations


Prepare


Have a process in place for changing official records both in the case of legal transition and social transition. Any record that does not require a legal name should be easily amended to an team member’s chosen name.


Support


Establish a process for transitioning team members to work with their direct supervisort, HR staff, member of the organization’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), People leaders, an LGBTQIA2+ Employee Resource Group (ERG) leader, or other appropriate stakeholders to create an individually-tailored plan for their workplace transition and have support throughout their transition.


Adapt


Be ready to change any photography or web information to reflect a team member's gender identity most accurately.

Important Changes

Ideally, the team member going through transition or gender-affirming processes should have a contact that can help coordinate any important changes they need such as:

  • Prioritizing chosen name in all spaces legally permissible before official name change (e.g. email address, name plate, name tag, access badges, website biography, organizational directory, authorship recognitions, PowerPoint templates, internal documents, etc.)
  • Prioritizing chosen name in any team tools and logins (e.g. Slack, Asana, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WebEx, Google Workspace, Salesforce, GitHub, Secure Shell (SSH) Keys, Amazon Web Services (AWS), 1Password, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Travel Systems, etc.)
  • Changing any organization Identification Documents (IDs) to chosen name and gender-affirming photography. 
  • Updating Human Resources (HR) profile with chosen name and pronouns.
  • Changing website biography or any features to chosen name.
  • Changing their website photography to better align with their gender. 
  • Input chosen name into Payroll Management System in addition to legal name if possible.
  • Input chosen name, pronouns, and gender into Health Insurance if possible.
  • Any gender-segregated work assignments (we recommend against dividing labour according to gender, especially in ways that reinforce the gender binary) should place the transgender, non-binary, gender-fluid, or nonconforming team member with the gender they identify with or are most comfortable with. 

If the organization has the available budget to do so, then they can also assist the team member with their legal name and gender change if they desire one of these or both. 

A transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, or nonconforming person who legally changes their name and/or gender will then need to or potentially want to reflect these updates in the following places outside of a strictly professional setting. If possible, organizations should provide support to help facilitate or provide guidance relating to these updates:

  • Government Issued Identification Documents (IDs), Certificates, & Systems (e.g. Passport, Driver’s License, Birth Certificate, Health Card, Photo Identity Card, Marriage License, Death Certificate - Include Wishes in Will, Social Insurance Card - Canada, Social Security Card - United States, Indigenous Status Card, Selective Service Registration, Immigration Documents/Visas, Voter Registration, Military/Veteran Records, etc.) This might not be possible depending on the country. 
  • Bank Accounts
  • Debit & Credit Cards
  • Credit Reports
  • Home Insurance
  • Car Insurance 
  • Professional Licenses
  • Degrees
  • Credentials
  • Publications
  • Awards


Communications: When, How, & If

Every team member will have different preferences for how, when, or if they want to have an official communication to share that they are going through a gender-affirming process.

They will have different comfort levels with who they want to share the information with and how much they want to share about their journey.  

Some team members prefer for their direct supervisor or a People Leader to communicate any important details to appropriate team members as this can set a more decisive tone, demonstrate team support, and take some of the burden of the process off of them.

Some team members may want to communicate all relevant details themselves via an email, short one-on-ones, or a team meeting to make the process more personable and humanizing.

Some team members might want to use both methods with an appropriate representative sharing organizational expectations (e.g. empathy, flexibility, sensitivity, respect, honouring of chosen name and pronouns, etc.) and policies (e.g. anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, anti-bullying, etc.) and the team member sharing their own personal update.

All these decisions should be up to the team member and can be presented as options.

Express


Accessibly feature your gender transition/affirmation policy so transitioning team members know who their initial point of contact should be and how a plan can be devised in accordance with their personal circumstances and wishes. In this policy, it is usually helpful to define different gender-related terminology at the outset the policy is accessible and easily understood by people outside of the LGBTQIA2+ community

 

Make sure that there is at least one point of contact that the transitioning team member can connect with throughout their gender transition as new considerations and challenges emerge.

 

In the event that the team member experiences any obstacles, resentment, bias, harassment, discrimination, hostility, exclusion, or ignorance during or after their transition, they should know who to connect with that can provide support.

Gender Fluidity & Gender Discernment Matters

 

 Some team members have a more fluid sense of their gender and how they want to express it over time. 

 

They may have a different and less fixed set of expectations for their co-workers (e.g. be flexible and affirming of their fluidity and the spaces that they feel most comfortable in at a given time, their variable gender presentation, and how they want to be referred to in given instances).

 

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 across their lives including in professional settings.


Learn More

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)


International Assignments


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.


Key Considerations


The level of outness of LGBTQIA2+ professionals vary significantly from country to country.


Safety


We know that in some countries queer relationships are still criminalized, heavily stigmatized, and more likely to invite violence, harassment, and prejudice.


Legal Documents


Trans and non-binary people’s legal documents might not align with their gender making travel and immigration more difficult if offered an international assignment.


Well-Being


Having to cover or conceal your LGBTQIA2+ identity can drastically decrease your quality of life, cause psychological distress, and impede productivity.


Global Statistics


According to the Coqual (Formerly the Center for Talent Innovation), 80% of LGBTQIA2+ professionals in Russia are not out, 72% in Singapore, 70% in China, and 67% in India--a lot of these countries are key markets for many companies.


Implementation Recommendations


Communicate


Communicate that LGBTQIA2+ team members will not face any career detriment if they decline an international post.


Research 


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.


Assess


Consider the legal and cultural climate of a region for the LGBTQIA2+ community in risk assessments for international posts.


Anticipate & Support


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


Compensate for tax breaks that same-gender couples might not be eligible to receive. 


Learn More

Infographic: What Is Covering? (Catalyst)

Out in the World (Coqual, Formerly Center for Talent Innovation)

Extending LGBTQ Policies & Benefits Globally (Diversity Best Practices)

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 

LGBTQ2+ Inclusiveness: Toolkit for Inclusive Municipalities (UNESCO)

Free & Equal (United Nations)

Kaleidoscope International Trust


Designing LGBTQIA2+ Inclusive Benefits


Domestic Partnerships

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.


Key Considerations


  • 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.


Implementation Recommendations


Ensure all benefits afforded to spouses (ex: health insurance, workplace leaves, retirement, etc.) are equivalent for domestic partners.


Learn More

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)


Chosen Family


Workplaces should recognize the diversity of family arrangements within the LGBTQIA2+ community and contemporary society. LGBTQIA2+ individuals are less likely to forge families through the same biological or legal routes as others.


Key Considerations


What are chosen families?

Chosen families or families of choice 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.


Why do they exist?

The LGBTQIA2+ community still faces disproportionate rates of family rejection, and, as a result, youth homelessness and reliance on personalized networks of kinship.


Why are they important?

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.


Implementation Recommendations


  • 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 / foster parents in parental leave policies.
  • Allow team members to define who their “loved ones” are beyond blood relatives and marriage.


Learn More

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


Trans-Inclusive Healthcare


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.


Key Considerations


Healthcare Plans


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.


Coverage


Where certain trans-inclusive procedures or coverage are contested as medically necessary such as 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 make the necessary arrangements to ensure that these costs are affordable and do not fall solely on the team member. 


Learn More

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


Fertility Benefits 

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+ professionals who are disqualified from them since they cannot biologically reproduce with their partner.

Key Considerations

Nuanced Coverage

Fertility benefits should cover “social infertility” or infertility that is shaped by a person’s relationships and circumstances rather than a purely physiological diagnosis.

The Ability to Plan

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.

Comprehensive Coverage

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.

Non-Gendered Healthcare

Fertility benefits should not be gender specific. A transgender man should still be able to freeze his egg cells or have access to intra-uterine insemination (IUI) treatments for example.

Additional Context

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.

Learn More

Progyny LGBTQ+ Fertility Infographic On The Rise: Infertility Coverage For LGBTQ 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)

On The Rise: Infertility Coverage for LGBTQ Employees


Co-Creating a Culture of Inclusion


Embracing Intersectionality


We must strive for intersectionality in LGBTQIA2+ inclusion efforts so that we do 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.


Key Considerations

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 even exacerbated by other members of the community.

standard rainbow flag

The ‘More Color, More Pride’ flag incorporates black and brown stripes as reminders of racialized LGBTQIA2+ people and their unique experiences.

more colour more pride flag

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.

progress flag

Implementation Recommendations

  • 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 company’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 that considers people with multiple identities experiencing marginalization without compromising their privacy or anonymity.

Learn More

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)


Climate Surveys

Team member surveys are an important tool to analyze 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.

Key Considerations

Connect

Organization-wide climate surveys can show specific questions regarding LGBTQIA2+ experiences at work depending on what demographics are checked in the survey.

Seek to Support

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.

Respect Privacy 

It is essential 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.

Be Intersectional

Try to capture data on how specific members of the LGBTQIA2+ community are doing and be intentional in taking an intersectional approach to data collection and analysis. For example, the experience of a Latinx trans woman will be different than a white cis gay man.

Implementation Recommendations

Inclusion

Include demographic questions around sexuality and gender on surveys in countries where it is legal to do so.

Variety

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.

Application

Integrate insights from periodic climate surveys into your organization's DEI strategy and programming.

Learn More

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)


Sharing Pronouns

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. There are several ways that you can normalize sharing and honouring pronouns in your office environment.

Key Considerations

Acknowledge 

Remember the gravity and the power of using the correct pronoun. If you have trouble with someone’s pronouns, practice them on your own time

Remember the gravity and the power of using the correct pronoun. Research shows that misgendering has profound psychological effects on trans, non-binary, genderfluid, and nonconforming people increasing their risk for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, self-harm, and worse. Canadian courts have even ruled misgendering as a human rights violation in light of these realities. 

 

Remember that behind every pronoun is a person.

Don’t Avoid Accountability

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.

 

You probably already use the singular “they” in your everyday speech and don’t give it a second thought. While this use has been commonplace when referring to someone whose gender is unknown, the singular “they” to affirm non-binary gender identities is relatively new.


Don’t Make Assumptions

Remember that you cannot know someone’s pronouns just from how they present. 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.

Implementation Recommendations

Integration
 

Encourage leaders and team members to include their pronouns in introductions, email signatures, videoconferencing usernames, nametags, and company biographies in solidarity with their trans, non-binary, genderfluid, and nonconforming team members. Be sure to model this behaviour yourself.

 

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.


Accountability


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 disciplinary action.


Autonomy & Respect


Do not make sharing pronouns mandatory. Embrace reciprocity—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 might 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.


Names Matter


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.


Pronoun Sharing Examples

Here is an example of how you can proactively share pronouns to eliminate confusion, prevent misgendering, and signal to team members that you are an LGBTQIA2+ inclusive work environment.

Global Context

There are many efforts to create and promote gender neutral language in different languages. 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.
  • Understand that LGBTQIA2+ language and culture is different around the world, and Western conceptions are not always universal or welcome.

Pronouns Around The World

Learn More

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'


Inclusive Language

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, but 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.

Learn More

Inclusive Language 101 (Feminuity)

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)


Non-Binary Inclusion

Refer to a theoretical person with “they” or use passive voice

  • Use This: “Their responsibilities include” or “Job responsibilities include”
  • Instead of This: “His or her responsibilities include”

Include non-binary honorifics

  • Use This: Mr., Ms., Mrs., & Mx.
  • Instead of This: Mr., Ms., Mrs.

Avoid phrases that uphold gender as binary

  • Use This: All Genders, Distinguished/Esteemed Guests, Friends & Colleagues, Everyone, You all
  • Instead of This: Men & Women, Ladies & Gentlemen, Both Genders/Sexes, Opposite Gender/Sex

Use gender inclusive language when referencing family and loved ones

  • Use This: Parents (referring to others), Partner, Significant Other
  • Instead of This: Mom & Dad, Mother & Father, Boyfriend/Husband, Girlfriend/Wife

Note: Someone’s pronouns are not preferred. Try: “Their pronouns are…”

Transgender Inclusion

Emphasize gender as socially constructed

  • Use This: Assigned male/female at birth
  • Instead of This: Biological or Genetic Man/Woman, Born a Man/Born a Woman

Learn the best way to refer to someone who is trans and remember that trans is an adjective, not a noun. 

  • Use This: Transgender or Trans, "He is a transgender person.”
  • Instead of This: Transgendered or Transsexual or “A transgender”

If asked to discuss medical changes avoid binaries

  • Use This: Transition(ing), Gender Affirming Surgeries/Processes, “They are transitioning”
  • Instead of This: Sex Change/Sex Reassignment, “They had a sex change”

Don’t describe someone using a previous identity

  • Use This: “Thanks to Dr. Cyril Brown, an amazing scientist…”
  • Instead of This: “Thanks to Dr. Cyril Brown, formerly Jessica Brown...”

Note: Disclosing someone else's identity unless they are out is an invasion of privacy. When discussing other people’s identities, make sure they are okay with that knowledge being shared.

Sexuality Inclusion

Use the categories that communities have self-identified.

  • Use This: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer (LGBQ) or be specific
  • Instead of This: Homosexual

Avoid using phrases that de-legitimize someone’s identity

  • Use This: “They are gay…” “They are queer…”
  • Instead of This: “The gay lifestyle...” “Their sexual preference is…” “It is just a phase.”

Using sexualities as metaphors contributes to stigma

  • Use This: “That is so uncool” or “That is strange”
  • Instead of This: “That’s so gay” or “That’s queer”

Avoid bias-laden language

  • Use This: Heterosexual
  • Instead of This: Straight (this assumes heterosexuality as the default or norm)

Note: If only discussing sexuaity, remove “T” from the acronym. Being transgender is not a sexuality.

LGBTQIA2+ Recruitment

There are some actions that your organization can take to appeal to queer job seekers and intentionally incorporate LGBTQIA2+ diversity into your recruitment pipelines. If LGBTQIA2+ team members never get in the door, your workplace culture will never have the opportunity to learn and grow from their perspectives and unique contributions.

Key Considerations

Express

Gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, and sex characteristics should be explicitly mentioned in your anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.

You want to feature your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion 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 be sure to incorporate an inclusivity statement that lists gender identity, gender expression, and sexuality in all job postings.

Incorporate

Use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that is gender inclusive and incorporates fields for chosen names and pronouns as well as spaces for voluntary self-identification.

Connect

Partner with LGBTQIA2+ professional organizations and request tables at their conferences. 

Build relationships with LGBTQIA2+ student organizations at key universities part of your talent pipelines and host on-campus recruitment events for queer students.

Value

Compensate LGBTQIA2+ leaders at your company to attend your general recruiting events that can speak to your company culture and demonstrate the different types of people welcomed at your organization.

Recruit at All Levels

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. 


Implementation Recommendations


Include LGBTQIA2+ diversity in:

  • Company-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 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. 


Learn More

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 LGBTQ2+ 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 whose aim is to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organizations they serve. They should be led by and participated in by employees from specific groups, such as members of the LGBTQIA2+ community. ERGs can be amazing spaces for queer employees to share struggles in the workplace, find community, discover mentors, professionally develop, acclimate to a new office, and catalyze inclusive policy and culture changes at a company.

Key Considerations

Getting Started

If you haven’t established an ERG for your LGBTQIA2+ employees, this should be your first phase. When starting the ERG, you should make sure 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, host targeted programming geared toward specific communities so they can view themselves in your content and know that they are welcome.

Full-Scale Integration

Beyond being a vital community resource for LGBTQIA2+ employees, ERGs can collaborate with marketing teams to produce queer-inclusive content, forge strategic partnerships to help create LGBTQIA2+ talent pipelines, and become civically engaged.

Implementation Recommendations

Collaborate with other company 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.


Learn More

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)?


LGBTQIA2+ Advocacy

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.

Implementation Recommendations

  • Participate in annual pride celebrations and other LGBTQIA2+ cultural events.
  • Support LGBTQIA2+ advocacy organizations by including them in company donation-match programs, corporate social responsibility initiatives, philanthropic giving, and company volunteer initiatives.
  • Show 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!

Learn 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)

Additional Resources

How HR & People Leaders Can Create an LGBTQIA2+ Inclusive Workplace Culture (Feminuity x Worktango)

Designing LGBTQIA2+ Inclusive Policies & Benefits (#UNPINKED)

Best Practices for Non-Binary Inclusion in the Workplace (Out & Equal)

2020 HRC Corporate Equality Index

Ally Up: Ally Is a Verb (Out Leadership)

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)

This resource reflects a particular moment in time, North America in 2021, and like most things in life, will eventually need updates. Everything changes - from technologies and innovations to social norms, cultures, and languages. As such, this resource is not meant to be a static guide, but rather a compilation and reflection of our learnings to date.

Please feel free to reach out to us at hello@feminuity.org if you have any thoughts, questions, or comments.

About the Author

Keith Plummer, MSc, BA, SHRM-CP

Director of Research & Learning

(They, Them, Theirs) 

If you wish to reference this work, please use the following citation:

Plummer, K. (2020). A Guide to LGBTQIA2+ Inclusion for HR, People, & DEI Leaders: Reimagining Your Workplace in a Rainbow. Feminuity.

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