One reason I love working in the DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) field is because it continues to grow and evolve. It is exciting to consult and train in an area that does not remain stagnant, but brings new challenges each year.
One topic I have been really enjoying is the growing awareness and presence of nonbinary people and use of pronouns. In fact, last June, I got more LGBTQ Pride Month speaking requests for this topic than any other!
What is this all about? Simply put, all aspects of humanity are on a spectrum and not always one way of the other. Society in general for so long has insisted that someone is either a man or woman, is either male or female. In reality, many people deep in their core feel that are a combination of genders or no gender at all. A few years ago, this concept was referred to as “gender nonbinary,” but now the best terminology is simply “nonbinary.”
Here are some points and resources around nonbinary people:
1) There are different terms that some people use in place of nonbinary. They include Genderqueer and Gender Expansive.
2) Many nonbinary people use the pronoun “they” instead of identifying with he or she. If a nonbinary person lets you know that they use the pronoun “they,” it is respectful to then refer to them as “they” when talking about them.
Two time US pairs figure skating champion and 2022 Olympian Timothy Leduc (tall person in the middle) has recently come out as nonbinary. Link to article.
3) Miriam-Webster’s Dictionary listed “they” used as singular non-gendered pronoun as their “word of the year” in 2019! Read the article here.
4) The leading LGBTQ+ Workplace Advocacy organization Out and Equal Workplace Advocate makes available a comprehensive guide for use of pronouns in the workplace. This resource (link) is focused on practical guidance for implementing successful practices and norms around pronouns in the workplace.
5) Companies and organizations wanting to attract bright young talent need to make sure the language they use in recruiting and job postings are inclusive of nonbinary people and those who support them. Instead of using “he or she” when writing about job responsibilities, simply use “they.”
6) Even when speaking to an audience, starting off with “ladies and gentlemen” is not inclusive. It is better to address an audience with “Greetings distinguished guests” or “Hello everyone!” In her new book “Inclusive 360 – Proven Solutions for an Equitable Organization” (read my blog about this fantastic book), Bernadette Smith gives lots of advice for interacting with nonbinary employees and customers.
Bottom line – it is all about respect! There should be no difficulty in treating people and addressing people are they want to be treated and addressed.
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Do please be in touch ([email protected]) if I can provide a training session for your team on use of pronouns. I love speaking on this topic. Thanks! Stan Kimer (he / him)
Bernadette Smith, author of “Inclusive 360: Proven Solutions for an Equitable Organization”
This new book launched on September 21st !!
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As a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consultant and trainer, I do like to read various books on this topic and blog about them. And every so often, an author I personally know sends me a pre-publication book to review and blog about.
Such is the case with “Inclusive 360: Proven Solutions for an Equitable Organization” by Bernadette Smith. I met Bernadette several years ago at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce’s annual conference (our companies are both certified LGBT-Business Enterprises via the chamber) and later enjoyed coffee with her when I traveled to Chicago where she shared about her plans to write with me.
Seriously, this is one of the very best diversity books for organizations I have read in years, and I plan to use it as a resource in my consulting work. So why is this book so outstanding? Five reasons:
1. The book is packed with ideas and dozens of examples of various innovative and impactful actions organizations have taken. Bernadette covers employee belonging, diversity in product and offering design, inclusive recruiting, pay practices, employee benefits, procurement practices and more. I cannot think of an area of business she did not cover. And all of this in under 200 pages!
2. She structures the book within the 3 main topics often included in all diversity work – part 1 is diversity, part 2 addresses equity and part 3 addresses inclusion.
3. Bernadette provides a very useful construct that she repeats in each chapter called ARC – Ask, Respect and Connect:
• Asking is about being open and inquisitive; asking good questions to better understand someone’s issues, struggles or position and then listening intently
• Respect is about actively listening and then accepting the input provided or data with an intention to honestly gain insight from it.
• Connecting is then providing appropriate responses and actions
Bernadette uses this ask, respect, connect methodology as she explores the various aspects of DEI
Order your copy today!
4. A high percentage of the book contains realistic actions that organizations can take on the various areas of DEI ranging from basic and intermediate tactics up through leading edge, truly inspirational actions.
5. And finally as appropriate and when totally relevant, Bernadette is authentic and transparent and shares some difficult parts of her own learning journey around diversity, equity and inclusion.
I highly recommend this book as a great tool to help you and your organization in your DEI journey no matter the size of your company or what stage you are in.
Here is the link to order your copy now, and I hope you are fortunate as I am and get to meet Bernadette in person some day.