How to Promote Gender Equality in the Workplace

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HR professionals can find themselves in a difficult situation when it comes to identifying employee genders. Annual EEO-1 or employee demographic reports limit employee gender to just two options, male and female, but gender identity is often not that black and white. As more employees identify as non-binary, HR teams have to find a balance between compliance and acceptance in their workplaces. 

Namely’s Workplace Diversity Report 2019 takes a deeper look at how companies are navigating gender in the workplace. When it comes to fostering an inclusive workplace, here are the ways companies are making sure all employees feel welcome at work. 




While 90 percent of companies provide just three gender elections—male, female, and “not specified”—the remaining 10 percent offer more than 20 different options to employees. This year, we saw five new options added to Namely’s database, including gender-neutral, intersex, transmasculine, transfeminine, and two-spirit. Here are the rest of the gender options companies allowed employees to choose from: 

  • Agender
  • Androgynous
  • Bigender
  • Genderqueer
  • Gender Not Listed
  • Gender Nonconforming
  • Gender Diverse
  • Gender Fluid
  • Gender Neutral
  • Intersex
  • Non-Binary
  • Not Sure
  • Other
  • Third Gender
  • Trans
  • Transgender
  • Transexual
  • Trans Female / Trans Woman
  • Transmasculine
  • Transfeminine
  • Trans Male / Trans Man
  • Transgender Female to Male (FTM)
  • Transgender Male to Female (MTF)
  • Two-Spirit

Allowing employees to self-identify isn’t the only way companies are letting workers express their gender identity. Many are also using custom fields in Namely to allow employees to share their preferred gender pronouns. Here are the options they offered:

  • She/Her/Hers 
  • He/Him/His 
  • They/Them/Theirs 
  • It/Its 
  • Ze/Hir/Hirs 
  • Ze/Zir/Zirs 
  • Zhe/Zhim/Zher 
  • Zie/Zir/Zirs 
  • Xe/Xem/Xyrs 
  • Hy/Hym/Hys 
  • None - I’ll share when I am ready 
  • No pronoun, please use my name 
  • Other - please educate us! 

Still, allowing employees to share their preferred pronouns is only helpful if their colleagues make a point to learn and use the correct pronouns. Here are some steps you can take to build a community that respects coworkers' pronouns and encourages all of your employees to be their true selves at work. 


1. Urge Employees to Share Their Preferred Pronouns

Don’t single-out non-binary employees—instead, ask all of your employees to share their preferred pronouns. You can suggest they share them on their Namely profile, Slack, their office badge, or in their email signature. This will help make it easier for employees to learn their teammates’ pronouns and foster an inclusive community.


2. Correct Improper Use

Mistakes happen. If an employee messes up a coworker’s pronouns, correct them and move on. Keep things light, but do call out improper use when you hear it and encourage your teams to do the same.


3. Offer Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Gender-neutral bathrooms can help ease some of the anxiety and discomfort non-binary or transgendered employees might have using facilities designed for a specific gender.


4. Avoid Gendered Language

Practice what you preach. Make sure your company policies avoid gendered language. For example, “maternity or parental leave” can be swapped for “parental leave.” In the case of parental leave, making sure you offer both primary and secondary caregivers equal leave is a great way to have gender-neutral company benefits that don’t exclude any employees. 




While these are just a few ways businesses are helping non-binary employees feel welcome and valued, there’s still work that needs to be done to make everyone feel they can be their true selves at work. Gender is only one of many factors that make up an employee’s identity. You need to be mindful and deliberate with your diversity and inclusion efforts to ensure employees of all walks of life feel heard and acknowledged at your workplace.

For more insight into the current state of workplace diversity, read the full Workplace Diversity Report 2019

Topics: Talent, Diversity & Inclusion

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