During these past few years businesses everywhere have changed. Workforces are changing, businesses are adapting, and we are in a continual process of change. During this change, we still have to keep diversity and inclusion at the core. Gender identification and acknowledgment of an employee’s chosen pronoun is one aspect of diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI). How people like to be referred to is important for respect, inclusion and diversity. More people enter the workplace with gender identities and manifestations that vary from what we may assume in addressing gender, requiring greater understanding and knowledge.
Gender sensitivity, relative to the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), intends to understand and consider the sociological and cultural elements underlying gender-based exclusion and discrimination in many aspects of public and private life. Gender sensitivity means acknowledging the significance gender contributes to an individual’s overall economic and social personality and the opportunities available to them. Whether you are a man, a woman, or a person of the LGBTQ+ community, being gender-sensitive and addressing the issue is the first move to attaining gender equality by everyone.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of businesses have had to adapt to working virtually. Hence, this shift is not limited to utilising software applications like Zoom, MS Teams and TopTracker but this also includes changes in employee interaction and communication among the team. For that, promoting gender sensitivity culture is also a challenge in a virtual workplace where most employees seldom or do not at all physically see the people they are working with.
To put it simply, how many times have you seen the name “Alex” and assumed that the person is male? There are several other names that could be both male or female. This is an over-simplication of a very complex issue of course, but it is an error that I am sure, many of us have made.
Gender Sensitivity in the Virtual Workplace:
1. Don’t Assume – Really do not assume things about a person’s gender or pronouns. Use they/them/their unless someone has explicitly indicated their pronoun.
2. Maintain Mass Communications Gender-Neutral – If referring to a set of individuals, there are many gender-neutral ways to call them: “Hello, Team/Colleagues/Everyone.”
3. Create Inter-Office Awareness through Using Pronouns in Email Signatures – This may be accomplished with a slight tweak to your current email signature, such as: