How Companies Can Support Non-Binary Employees

The definition of gender is evolving beyond just male and female. As of 2016, 1.4 million Americans self-identify as transgender, meaning their gender identity differs from their birth sex. Today, an increasing number of people are acknowledging genders outside of the traditional male and female binary. In fact, 50 percent of millennials believe gender is a spectrum. But how is the workplace supporting non-binary employees?

As many companies say diversity is a top priority, it’s more important than ever to foster a community in which all employees—regardless of gender—feel comfortable and supported at work. In our Workplace Diversity Report 2018, we uncovered new trends in how companies are handling gender identity and maintaining the balance between compliance and acceptance. Read on to learn how many forward-thinking companies are approaching this element of diversity.


While gender-neutral bathrooms and employee resource groups (ERGs) are great ways to inspire a culture of inclusion, some companies are going even further by letting their employees self-identify in their HRIS beyond male and female. While 90 percent of companies we looked at offer only three options for gender identification—male, female, and “not specified”—10 percent offered over 20 different customized gender fields in their HRIS, including:

  • Agender
  • Androgynous
  • Genderqueer
  • Gender Non-conforming
  • Third Gender
  • Transgender
  • Transexual

In addition to self-selecting gender identity, more and more companies are asking employees to specify their preferred pronouns. By asking the question, you can ensure you’re using inclusive language as HR, and by including this information on employee profiles available company-wide, it makes it easy for coworkers to know how to address their peers.  

Gender Diversity and Compliance

Why don’t more companies offer non-binary options? HR compliance hasn’t always been the most flexible when it comes to gender. EEO-1 reports and other federal employee demographic forms limit gender to two options: male or female. Some states, however, are taking a stand to make the forms more inclusive. Oregon, California, Vermont, Maine, and Washington now allow individuals to self-identify as non-binary, or “X”, on drivers’ licenses, state ID cards, and birth certificates.

Some companies are following suit by creating their own approach to employee reporting and gender. In an effort to remain compliant, but still acknowledge their employee’s identities, some organizations have created custom fields in their HRIS systems in addition to their “gender identity” option. That way employers can collect the information they need to submit accurate government reports, and employees can share how they identify in the workplace. For the compliance field, here are some ways companies have made the distinction:

  • Gender, as required for EEOC and legal reporting purposes

  • Sex, for EEO Purposes

  • Gender for Benefit Purposes ONLY

  • Gender as Shown on Passport

  • Gender as Listed on Driver’s License

While some companies are widening their definition of gender and looking for ways to foster an inclusive workplace, there is still a long way to go. Diversity and inclusion touches on every facet of employee identity. To understand other diversity trends and get tips straight from HR professionals, check out the full Workplace Diversity Report 2018.

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