Diversity and Gender Inclusion – Are You Taking Action?

Like the elephant in the room, the topic of gender diversity and inclusion is one that we don’t dare to address enough. In fact, when gender diversity used to be only associated with the presence of women in the workforce, the term now has a broader definition. Today, to the multifactorial equation of inclusion in the workplace, we add individuals with gender expressions and identities[1] that are disjointed from the known binarity. Like their peers, these workers are important and have legitimate expectations of their employers that need to be addressed appropriately.

Despite a willingness to be inclusive, many managers are reluctant to speak out, wondering if discussion is within their mandate. While doing nothing and sweeping the issues under the rug may seem like a satisfactory response in the moment, it is important to realize that nothing can go on forever. Society evolves, visions change, and our organizational cultures must keep pace.

So how can one’s company culture be inclusive in the sense of gender diversity? What makes an inclusive company?

It starts with your behaviors and attitudes

For an organization to be gender inclusive, each member of the organization must feel respected and supported[2]. These values need to be reflected in everyone’s actions and thoughts, and to persist in interpersonal interactions. First, the practice in inclusive workplaces invites everyone to specify the pronouns they use to refer to themselves[3]. This action is a small gesture that can make a big difference to your employees.

Second, considering that 34% of transgender people have experienced some form of harassment at work[4], educating yourself on the issue and addressing your biases should also help prevent conflict situations. Therefore, do not hesitate to invite all members of your organization to a training on the subject. Managers and employees alike, we can all benefit from an awareness or refresher course!

It extends to your internal processes and policies

Unknowingly, it is possible that a company’s workforce recruitment processes are discriminatory. Among other things, through the use of gendered language, a simple job posting can bias the recruitment process. This is not a desirable outcome when promoting inclusion. What if we tried anonymous resumes as a recruitment technique?

The same principle applies to your internal policies. Auditing them would allow you to remove any elements that could lead to discrimination based on gender expression or gender identity[5]. A careful assessment of the situation is therefore necessary!

And it becomes a reality through your commitment

Here, the latin idiom Facta non verba[6] takes on its full meaning. Like any major organizational change, inclusion requires a commitment from the top ranks of the organization. This commitment can be demonstrated by having an inclusion committee, a dedicated budget for inclusion initiatives, or a policy that explicitly addresses inclusion and diversity[7]. Once these additions have been made, survey your employees to assess their impressions. Accepting feedback on your implemented measures is a key step in evaluating your initiatives.

The adoption of such a culture can quickly allow a company to see considerable achievements. These include the development of a sense of belonging among its members, and a greater potential for innovation[8]. Hence, your organization would profit greatly from having such a culture in place. From now on, you have everything you need to be a vector of change.

And if you ever need help, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Contact us

By Kimberley Théodore-Julien, CRHA
HR Blog Editor – Iceberg Management 

[1]   Gender identity is each person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is their sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum.
Gender expression is how a person publicly presents their gender. This can include behaviour and outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language and voice. A person’s chosen name and pronoun are also common ways of expressing gender.
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-justice/news/2016/05/gender-identity-and-gender-expression.html
[2] https://www.predictiveindex.com/blog/create-gender-inclusive-workplace/
[3] https://www.cpacanada.ca/fr/nouvelles/travail/2019-02-28-trans-integration-travail
[4] https://ordrecrha.org/ressources/revue-rh/volume-20-no-4/les-personnes-transgenres-au-travail?source=d0f2ff4e3a844e5086dd882c70c25a52
[6] https://ordrecrha.org/ressources/relations-travail/2019/01/identite-expression-genre-guide-employeurs
[7] In English: actions speak louder than words.
[8] https://www.rcgt.com/fr/nos-conseils/diversite-et-inclusion-en-milieu-de-travail-des-politiques-d-entreprise-adaptees/
[9] Idem