How to be an 2SLGBTQ+ ally in the workplace
HANDS ON TIPS BY KRISTIN RANKIN, FOUNDER OF DRESSCODE PROJECT
Start at the top. Ensure all senior staff have been trained in gender inclusivity and diversity training in the workplace and as a result they should be able to make sure they can provide support to an employee who needs it.
Hold leaders and coworkers accountable for creating an inclusive workplace. It’s so important to create an environment that is community-based and community driven. As leaders in the room, it is important to Xpress how we all hold each other accountable to be our best every day. By encouraging employees to report any discrimination (including discrimination based on gender, gender identity or sexual orientation) in the workplace you are telling not only your employees but also your clients and consumers who identify within the queer community that they matter.
Recruit a diverse workforce. Your mission statement should make it clear that your company values all employees no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. Meaning that it is important to you as a company that your workforce shows diversity. So, you might look to hire someone who is as qualified as the next person but identifies as outside of the gender binary. For example, they identify as gender fluid, gender nonconforming or non-binary.
Have a community support program within your company that gives information, training and education around inclusivity and diversity to all employees. An example of this is the community-based support group for 2SLGBTQ+ that Procter & Gamble (parent company of PANTENE) has called GABLE.
- Seek training and education from those who specialize in it. For example, Pantene and Procter & Gamble has used their partnership with the Dresscode Project to make sure that the information that is being shared about language and allyship is current, professional, and up to date.
Make sure your company has a very clear policy that is inclusive to the protection of their employees who identify outside of the gender binary. By making sure that your policy is inclusive of discrimination against queer employees based on gender, gender identity and or gender expression you are showing your employees that not only do you preach allyship, but you practice it.
Use inclusive language on company intake forms and questionnaires. Utilize terms, pronouns and prefixes that pertain to all genders of identity. A really easy example of this is when intake forms have a box that makes you tick your gender. Make sure you don’t only list “male or female” and on that note don’t say ‘other’. ‘Other’ is offensive as it usually gives the idea that you are considered to be “an other”, meaning not as important or second classed. Instead, use other terms like “Non-binary” or “Gender non-conforming”.
Celebrate, recognize, and bring visibility to different communities using momentous occasions. For example, the 2SLGBTQ+ communities celebrate a day known as TDOR (transgender day of remembrance). Mark these occasions in the same way you would celebrate other occasions or holidays.
Keep on hand in your office a manual or a guide that shows employees how they can be a good ally. This is a reference that your employees can refer to when they need to. An example of this is the one that the dress code project provides for hair salons and barbershops. When they become members of our alliance, we send them a welcome package that includes the guide to gender affirming Hair Spaces.
Dress Code Policy: Does your company have a dress code policy? If so, have you updated it in a while? Is it gender neutral? As allies in the workspace, you need to make sure that your employees know what your policy is around workspace dress code. I would recommend that you have a dress code policy that is gender neutral and that it does not abide by gender stereotypes based on the binary.
Providing access to gender inclusive washrooms is so important for those employees who don’t identify within society’s idea of the traditional binary. This is easy enough to do by using signage that doesn’t reinforce gender binaries. So, for example, instead of having one washroom that has a symbol for a woman and another for a man, you could simply have the words washroom, restroom, lavatory, or any other word you would use to describe the facilities. The best example I ever saw of this was cute little toilet paper rolls as signs! It’s inclusive and very clear what those spaces are being used for 😉
A big part of being an ally is doing the work. Doing the work often means contributing to those who are in need or less fortunate than us. Contributing to queer charities throughout the year is a really fantastic way to show your employees who identify within the 2SLGBTQ+ communities that you value them, and you want to be supportive even outside of the workplace.
Finally, it is incredibly important that companies these days recognize families who do not identify in the traditional sense of the word. Heteronormativity within society has made us to believe that the definition of a family is a man and a woman being married with children. I think that we all know in today’s world diversity is just as important as ever! What that means when it comes to families is that companies recognize all kinds of parents. Heterosexual parents and queer parenting alike. For example, a Gay couple adopts a baby, and the parents are able to go off on paternity leave even though they didn’t physically birth the child.