Gender-inclusive language

As The National Center for Transgender Equality explains, non-binary is a term for any person who doesn’t fit neatly into the categories of “man” or “woman.” It’s easy to implement gender-inclusive language in your workplace—and it begins with educating your employees.

Some workers will want to know “why.” Share stats on the estimated number of transgendered Americans who identify as non-binary: 350,000-490,000. (Experts posit that there are actually many more non-binary Americans; The U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t ask about gender identity.)

Next, talk about the importance of creating a safe workplace for every employee—and how a culture of inclusivity helps attract top talent and drive innovation. Inclusion is a win-win.

Other workers will want to know “how.” Share the following tips with them in your next all company meeting to get the conversation going. Follow that up with written communication; Share the tips again by email or by adding them to your intranet.

Tips for respecting your co-workers:

  1. Don’t make assumptions about a person’s gender. Don’t assume that a co-worker is non-binary because of the way they dress, style their hair, or talk.
  2. Do ask what pronouns someone uses if you’re unsure. A simple “What pronouns do you use?” is a perfectly acceptable question.
  3. Do use the pronouns a person asks you to use. It can be hard to get used to saying “they” instead of “he” or “she,” but it’s important to use a person’s pronouns every time—even when they’re not around.
  4. Don’t be paralyzed if you make an honest mistake. If you accidentally use a non-binary person’s incorrect pronoun, simply apologize, use the correct one, and continue with what you were saying.
  5. Do hold others accountable. If you hear a co-worker use an incorrect pronoun, speak up. Implementing gender-inclusivity into your culture means everyone must play a part.