Gender equality has always been a strong part of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. However, current shifts in gender inclusivity have added new topics to this discussion. Growing communities of gender non-conforming and transgender individuals have expanded the male and female dynamics. One of the most common gender identifications is non-binary. These individuals do not consider themselves to be simply male or female; rather, their identity falls between these labels on the gender spectrum.
Non-binary describes any individual who does not exclusively identify as a man or a woman. This gender may mix and match characteristics from either gender, lean towards one side of the gender spectrum, or distance themselves from male and female traits completely. It is not always possible to label someone as non-binary simply from their clothes, hair, or body parts. Instead, allow those around you to come out as non-binary and share which pronouns they prefer. Oftentimes these individuals will use they/them terms or a combination of gendered and non-gendered pronouns, like she/they. Each non-binary person is different and will have a unique version of their gender expression. If you find yourself confused, consider delving deeper into credible research about gender identities, listening to the stories from non-binary speakers, or approaching your gender non-conforming team members with polite and curious questions.
When in the workplace, respect should always be the number one priority. Some non-binary employees will be open to sharing their stories and proudly display their pronouns, but others may be more reserved and closeted. Meet these team members where they are and ensure that they feel valued and understood. Most importantly, listen when gender non-conforming individuals divulge their experiences and take their words to heart. Ease their work lives by using the correct pronouns for coworkers. Over 30% of the LGBTQ+ community has reported that being repeatedly misgendered elicits feelings of depression, doubt, and anxiety (Healthline). As allies, we can incite inclusion through intentional language and caring actions, fostering a welcoming workplace for non-binary team members.
Dima Ghawi is the founder of a global talent development company. Her mission is providing guidance to business executives to develop diversity, equity and inclusion strategies and to implement a multi-year plan for advancing quality leaders from within their organization. Through keynote speeches, training programs and executive coaching, Dima has empowered thousands of professionals across the globe to expand their leadership potential. For more information, visit DimaGhawi.com and BreakingVases.com.