Gender Diversity For Workplaces - A Gender Agenda
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Gender Diversity For Workplaces

Navigating gender diversity in the workplace can seem like a complex issue that needs special treatment. However workplaces often find the considerations made for gender diverse people are simple things that make the workplace more mindful and inclusive for everyone.

One thing to be aware of are the legalities that are applied to workplaces with the goal of avoiding discrimination in the workplace. The ACT Human Rights commission has some clear guidelines around gender in the workplace.

When considering the needs of gender diverse people, it is useful to think about the role gender plays in your workplaces, and how this can be challenged to become more inclusive for all employees. When paperwork asks for someone’s gender, it should acknowledge a gender neutral option. In the ACT this can be the legally recognised ‘X’ marker, though in other contexts it’s usually enough to acknowledge “Other”, “Unspecified”, “Non-Binary”, and “Prefer Not To Say”. You wouldn’t expect a woman to tick “Male” on a form just because it was the only option there. When forms are not inclusive of gender diversity, it means that your workplace is forcing gender diverse people to lie about themselves. While in most contexts this is simply unethical, in other contexts this may mean the individual or workplace is breaking the law.

Similar issues arise when a workplace does not provide gender neutral bathrooms. While all-gender bathrooms can be a heated topic, there is no evidence to suggest there is increased risk to anyone when these spaces are shared. Making bathrooms all-gender not only creates facilities that are safer for gender diverse people; it means that all employees have improved access to facilities. Additionally, it means that things such as change tables, sanitary bins and urinals are accessible to individuals who may need them.

The same can be said for gendered dress codes. Allowing employees their choice of uniform ensures equitable conditions that can also help gender diverse employees, or even just employees that dislike gendered clothing. We no longer expect women to wear skirts/dresses at work, so we have already done a level of societal de-gendering of work clothing. Allowing all employees to choose which components of a uniform they want to wear is simply the next stage of ensuring equitable access to employment and prevents discrimination for all people.

Language is another important aspect of workplace cultural change. Encouraging a culture of non-gendered language isn’t just useful for trans and gender diverse folks – for example, it can also help someone with a same-sex partner navigate workplace conversation, or take the pressure off the new parents of an intersex child. Examples of non-gendered language include using ‘Welcome Folks’ rather than ‘Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen’. Other examples can be more personal, such as inviting ‘partners’ to the office Christmas party rather than ‘husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends’ and using ‘parental leave’ rather than ‘maternity/paternity leave.’

An anti-bullying policy and code of conduct that is mindful of all forms of gender discrimination is integral to maintaining a healthy work environment which is inclusive of everyone. Small, simple changes mean big things for the people they affect. Much of this cultural shift can be facilitated with workplace training, which is offered by AGA. Start a conversation in the workplace about what is needed to include gender diverse people.

Key Points

  • A workplace that is mindful of gender diverse people is more inclusive and productive.
  • It’s important to ensure workplace processes allow gender diverse employees and clients to give honest information.
  • What may seem like special considerations for a small group of people can in fact benefit the whole workplace.