Non-Binary in the Workplace: How to Support Your Employees

Written by Luke Kitchen
Last updated June 22, 2022

The definition of non-binary is, “a gender identity which falls outside of the gender binary, meaning an individual does not identify as strictly female or male.” Non-binary is a gender expression rather than a recognition of biological sex, and it is how many people choose to live their daily lives. As of yet, non-binary genders aren’t legally accepted on documentation and you cannot legally identify as anything rather than male and female, but there has been protesting and petitioning against this issue in recent years. Both of which have seen widespread public support. 

Being non-binary in the workplace is a topical issue in 2022 and it is one that deserves employers’ full attention. How we treat and support our non-binary employees is hugely influential. Both for their lives and for the safety of our workplace overall. If we want adequate equality, diversity, and inclusion, learning how to support our non-binary employees should be pretty high up on our priority list. 

That is why we created this blog to help you out.

What Is It Like To Be Non-Binary at Work?

People who identify as non-binary do not feel strongly male or female. They prefer to be somewhere neutral on the gender spectrum. The identity falls under the transgender umbrella and can include/overlap with over identity terms such as “gender non-conforming”, “agender” and “genderqueer”. Many non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns such as they/them, but this depends on the individual person’s pronouns and can be different for everyone. 

Having a non-binary identity in the workplace is not something without difficulty or stress. Nearly 65% of trans people surveyed said that they hid their true identity status at work and the overall rates of discrimination against trans and non-binary people in the workplace are significant. Over a third of non-binary people experienced discrimination even in the application and interview process of trying to get a job. 

Non-binary people have specifically named issues such as “deadnaming” as being common in the workplace. Deadnaming is when someone uses the name you no longer identify with but that was assigned to you at birth. Whether this is accidental or incidental. Deadnaming can be very distressing and uncomfortable for people with a transgender identity. Other non-binary people have been ridiculed for the use of pronouns in the workplace and others have faced direct transphobia and hate crimes. 

Long story short: things aren’t easy for non-binary people at work and discrimination runs rampant. 

How Can Employers Support Non-Binary Members of Staff?

Employers have a duty to protect all members of staff from discrimination based on their gender and the protected characteristic of gender reassignment, under the Equality Act of 2010. 

Employers must come down hard on any instances of discrimination, harassment and victimisation. We need to implement strict HR policies and stick to them.

Even before any of these nasty circumstances might arise, it is vital that employers work on building an inclusive environment. A workplace that allows non-binary employees to work comfortably, safely, and equally. You can never predict individuals committing a hate crime, unfortunately, but you can do as much as possible to prevent it by creating the right kind of environment in your workplace. Hate crimes very often start with indirect discrimination and work their way up, if you can stop things before they get started, this can make a big difference. 

Here are some practical ways that employers can create an environment of inclusion for their non-binary members of staff: 

Use Gender-Neutral and Gender-Inclusive Language 

How we use language in the workplace is crucial to accessibility and inclusion. A lot of language use, whether intentional or not, excludes non-binary people. Especially so in relation to gender in language. 

We often might not even realise how gendered the language we use is. Simple things like “hey guys!” “ladies and gentlemen…” and “employees can turn his/her work in via email”, are all examples of gendered language that can make non-binary people feel uncomfortable. 

This is important in every stage of employment, including recruitment. Non-binary people often feel excluded in the recruitment process as job postings are unnecessarily gendered. Often, there aren’t the options they need on application forms, and they are misgendered by interviewers. Keeping your language inclusive in this process is key to not losing out on non-binary candidates. You can read more about creating inclusive job postings, right here.

Normalise Pronoun Use 

If you are a cisgender person, you might not think about your pronouns. You might not think that the use of pronouns is that big of a deal, either. But for people with trans identities, pronouns are essential. 

Christon Mallot for Gay Times writes, “When somebody goes to the effort to learn and use my preferred pronouns, they’re telling me: ‘I respect and recognise who you identify as’”. They discuss pronoun use in email signatures and bios and highlight how important these actions can be. For non-binary people in the workplace, these small steps can mean a lot. For everyone, they go a long way to promoting inclusion and diversity at work.

Our blog about pronouns can tell you much more about this topic and how you can best handle the use of pronouns in the workplace. It’s important to understand this topic and why it matters so much to the trans people we work with.

Provide Adequate Training and Education 

Unfortunately, a lot of us still don’t know enough about non-binary and trans identities. We are still behind as a whole in terms of knowledge and education around trans and non-binary subjects, and we need to catch up.

If you want to make your workplace inclusive and accessible for non-binary people, providing training and education for all members of staff is a great place to start. Taking the time to provide knowledge on topics such as pronoun use and gender-inclusive language is important. It can help non-binary employees receive the right treatment from everyone they work with. 

We always have more to learn and Diversity-Positive employers should be committed to continually upskilling and learning. Providing training opportunities shows your non-binary employees that you care about their well-being. And that you want to make things better for everyone. That goes a long way. 

Becoming a Diversity-Positive employer is the right thing to do in 2022 and beyond. Equality, diversity, and inclusion make the world of employment a better place for everyone at every stage. 

To find out more about becoming an inclusive employer and finding diverse job seekers, check out our site for more information and resources and take a look at our jobs for non-binary people

Let’s work together!

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Last Updated: Friday December 30 2022
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