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Inclusive Recruiting: Transgender & Non-Binary Candidates

By July 2, 2021September 6th, 2023Diversity and Inclusion

Sharing Pronouns is the easiest way to create an inclusive recruiting process.

First impressions are everything, and that’s exactly what your recruiting process is! Your candidate’s experience is their first impression of your company and its culture. We’ve shared several ways you can practice prioritizing diversity and inclusion in your workplace. Today, we want to pay special attention to how you can help create a more comfortable recruiting experience for transgender and non-binary candidates.

How is this relevant to recruiting?

It was just June 2020, when the Supreme Court ruled that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While this was a major victory for LGBTQ+ rights, there are still rampant misunderstandings of transgender individuals.

As recruiters, it’s our job to manage the candidate experience and ensure it’s inclusive for all. The number of transgender people is growing as younger generations are increasingly identifying as non-binary or gender non-conforming. Continuing to learn about and discussing transgender and non-binary issues, can help us better serve the current and future workforce. 

Basic gender identity definitions

The first step in practicing inclusive recruiting is establishing a basic understanding of gender identities, this can help:

helpful definitions for recruiting transgender and nonbinary people. types of gender identities- transgender, nonbinary, and cisgender

Why using pronouns is important

You may be wondering why you should use pronouns when introducing yourself or on social media. That’s a common feeling for those of us who may identify as the sex we were assigned at birth (cisgender). When you look and act like your stereotypical gender, you expect people can look at you and can assume your correct pronouns. 

When cisgender people use their pronouns it normalizes pronoun usage in general. It also gives other people the opportunity to share theirs without it feeling weird or uncomfortable. Using and acknowledging pronouns is one of the easiest ways to make sure your recruiting processes are inclusive and that candidates feel comfortable and respected.

Sharing pronouns is also easier than ever before! It takes seconds to add them to your social media bios, email signatures, and ZOOM names.

Additional practices for inclusive recruiting

1. Go by the name a candidate gives you

Sometimes the name on a transgender candidate’s application or resume might not match other names on their official government documents or information from previous employers. They also might have a different name or picture on a driver’s license. Make a note of the name the candidate gave you and use that name. Using a person’s previous name is called “deadnaming” and it can be very offensive to transgender and non-binary people.  Once hired, rules for payroll and taxes require names match the social security card, but during the interview process or in conversation, use the preferred name even if it’s different.

2. Disclosure is Up to the Candidates

When recruiting new candidates we work hard for our candidates to feel comfortable and at ease. During the interview process, if possible, give people opportunities to share their pronouns. But if the candidate does not give their pronouns, do not bring them up. Many transgender and non-binary people experience harassment or discrimination in the workplace and might not want to out themselves in this respect. 

3. Don’t panic, just apologize

If you make a mistake and use a person’s wrong name or pronoun, do not panic or make it a big deal. Take a second and acknowledge you made a mistake, sincerely apologize and move on. When a person dramatizes their mistake they are ultimately framing themselves as the victim making it an even more uncomfortable situation for the trans or non-binary person.

4. Learn more and stay informed

While this article covers a little bit about gender identity and how we can be more inclusive to transgender applicants in our hiring process, there is still so much to learn. As always keep an open mindset. Not everyone’s experience and perspective will match our own, but it is those differences that help us expand our knowledge.

Everyone wants and deserves to be treated equally and with respect in the workplace. By learning to be inclusive to transgender applicants and employees we can provide spaces where everyone can succeed at work!

Additional resources:

5 Employer Takeaways as EEOC Issues New Guidance

‘Trans-forming’ the Workplace to Be Transgender Inclusive

Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace: A ToolKit for Employers


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