For IP Inclusive, International Women’s Day on 8 March is a time to think about people of all genders, in particular those who identify as women but also their allies throughout the community. It’s important that transgender and non-binary people are not forgotten either, and that their IP sector colleagues respect, welcome and support their individual gender identities.

That’s why we’re delighted to be able to share this guest post today from Katherine Revels, HR Advisor at Emphasis HR & Training. It challenges us to think about how well our workplaces support people of different genders, and explores practical ways to be more inclusive.

Katherine writes:

Gender is not neatly separated along the binary lines of man and woman, and it is not necessarily what you’re born with anatomically. Gender refers to how an individual feels and identifies on the inside and only that person can determine what their gender is.

Many employers don’t know how to create policies and workplace cultures to support LGBTQ+ people and part of the problem is a lack of knowledge and confusion around the fact that the terminology is continually evolving. However, conversations around gender are transforming and it seems businesses are trying to do more to celebrate their diverse teams and encourage environments where individuals, no matter their gender, feel safe being themselves, welcome and motivated to perform at their best.

Big brands including O2, Apple, Marks & Spencer and Tesco are supporting employees with various inclusive initiatives such as actively encouraging employees to share their preferred pronouns in their email signatures and on name badges.

Pronouns, according to the LGBT Foundation, are the words used to refer to people when not directly speaking to them and often have gendered implications. A 2020 study by the Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organisation for LGBTQ+ young people, found the risk of suicide is dramatically reduced when their identity is respected.

M&S have introduced employee badges now featuring a selection of pronouns such as “He/Him/His”, “She/Her/Hers” and “They/Them/Their”. This simple, yet impactful approach to respecting LGBTQ+ identities has been extremely well received by employees and customers alike. David Park at M&S said the badges help everyone feel comfortable and avoid any misgendering which “is really important as it encourages… allyship towards trans and non-binary colleagues”.

Creating an inclusive workplace starts with everyday actions. Has this sparked some thoughts for you and your business? Are you supporting gender identity within your workplace?

If this feels like new territory for you, we have pulled together some suggestions on how to start encouraging an equal and inclusive culture:

  • Open the door for conversations – it is up to each individual to choose whether they share their gender identity at work. Some may choose to discuss the topic and others may wish to keep it a strictly personal matter. Start to normalise varying gender identities within the workplace through small gestures, such as using preferred pronouns. Through these small gestures, you will start to create a safe space for all employees and build trust.
  • Training – many people lack the knowledge and confidence to challenge prejudice. Training increases understanding and allows you to be better acquainted with changing gender identity terminology and become more accepting and supportive of others. At Emphasis we strongly support and value all individuals and we run equality and diversity half-day training courses which include gender identity.
  • Gender neutral toilets – perhaps one of the most controversial issues facing gender identity and transgender individuals, but it can be handled in a simple, mindful way. Consider introducing gender neutral bathrooms.
  • Equality and diversity policy – ensure you have inclusive policies and practices eg those related to bathroom access, neutral dress codes and pronoun usage.


Please contact Emphasis HR at [email protected] if you would like more information about their equality and diversity training courses.


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Page published on 7th March 2022
Page last modified on 7th March 2022
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