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July 30 2018Read more
International Non-Binary People’s Day (which takes place on July 14th) is a celebration and recognition of non-binary individuals and their rights to be themselves, whether at home, at their place of work, or anywhere else they choose.
But for many organisations, this day also offers an opportunity to learn how to be supportive and encouraging of your non-binary team members. To help you cultivate a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere where people feel safe to be their authentic selves, here are some of the key things you need to know.
What Does Non-Binary Mean?
This term refers to anyone who identifies as neither male nor female. Some people may even feel that their gender can change between male and female on a regular basis, or not feel part of any binary labels whatsoever.
Every non-binary person will be different, and some of the terms they may define themselves as can fall under anything from genderless and bi-gender, to nongender and third gender. It’s also important to remember that just because someone is non-binary, that doesn’t necessarily mean they identify as being trans (individuals whose gender doesn’t match the sex they were assigned at birth).
Supporting Non-Binary People in your Organisation
You may have people who are non-binary within your organisation who feel unsure about coming out and being their authentic selves. For this reason, it’s vital to show everyone that you support non-binary people and value how each one of your team members identify.
As a first step, creating this inclusive and welcoming culture can be as easy as follows:
While these 3 initial steps can be very helpful, there are some essential things to remember about how to create a more inclusive environment for non-binary people to feel welcome and supported.
Removing Preconceived Notions and Bias
A non-binary person may dress or present themselves in a masculine or feminine way. Sometimes, this can fluctuate and change based on how they choose to express their gender. However, you should never assume someone’s gender or preferred pronouns, and instead, work at breaking down any preconceived notions that you may have.
If in doubt, there’s nothing wrong with simply asking someone what their pronouns are, instead of guessing based on their external appearance.
Encourage Inclusive Language that Doesn’t Exclude Anyone
We can overlook just how often we exclude non-binary people in our everyday language. For example, meetings or communications that address your people as ‘ladies and gentleman’, or falling back on ‘he’ or ‘she’ labels when talking to someone you don’t know can all make non-binary people feel unsure about being themselves around their colleagues.
Simple changes can go a long way here. Try addressing people as ‘everyone’, or use alternatives to the ‘he’ or ‘she’ labels like ‘they/them/theirs’. The more you do this, the easier it becomes, and the more others will follow suit.
Remember where the Responsibility Lies
Perhaps the most important thing of all to remember is that it shouldn’t be the responsibility of your non-binary team members to educate others on this matter. We all have a duty to make every person feel valued, seen, and respected for who they are.
Regular diversity and inclusion training should be a mandatory part of any modern organisation, and that first step towards inclusivity begins with an understanding and appreciation of everyone’s right to feel included.
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