Better Introductions Start Inclusive Candidate Experiences

I dread the beginning of June when all the companies start coming out with rainbow logos. I get it. You want to show the LGBT+ community that you support them. Wonderful. How does changing your logo change anything for them? How does it create a more inclusive candidate experience? How does it give them equal access to this world?

Unfortunately, so many companies spend time adding colors to a logo to convey they are inclusive instead of educating their teams.

News flash: Brands shouldn’t be leading inclusion and community efforts – in your consumer or candidate messages. Talent should.

Talent Teams Teach Inclusion

Talent has the opportunity to impart information on their teams and empower people with action. But, the cool part we don’t talk enough about is how those employees can impact families, friends, peers, and community members. One employee will have an enormous impact on making this world more bearable and safe for others.

As companies, we have an opportunity and responsibility to educate our people on inclusive language and candidate experiences to become better parents, teachers, leaders, and allies in the community.

Pronoun education is just one element of that – but it has significant consequences on employee mental health. Stats from the Trevor project show that if one person at work uses correct pronouns for you, it can
decrease the likelihood that you’ll attempt suicide by 40%.

One person can save a life and talent leaders can help. How amazing is that?

If you want to bring that content to your office, you can book a meeting with me here.

An Inclusive Candidate Experience Starts With Introductions

Acceptance starts at the introduction when we don’t assume. Instead, we ask. However, most people don’t know how to broach the subject of pronouns or feel comfortable asking.

In my research and exploration, here’s the introduction I’ve found that feels most comfortable for me:

Hi, my name is Katrina.
I use they/them pronouns.
How should I refer to you?

If they feel safe, I hope they’ll share their pronouns. If they don’t, they are welcome to change pronouns later. Regardless, that prompt will convey my interest in knowing them versus my interest in them knowing me. That’s where belonging often starts – by simply showing your concern for another human.

The most important lesson here? Ask. Not when in doubt, not when you’re curious, but always. Just ask instead of assuming gender or anything else about a person.

My biggest hope for the near future is simply that – a world of work where we stop assuming and start asking questions and where people show genuine concern for each other.

I know we have a long way to go, but starting with this easy introduction is a great place to begin building belonging in the candidate experience.

LGBT and Diversity

Kat Kibben View All →

Katrina (Kat) Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive, unbiased job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Thank you for this, Katrina!

    I have a follow-up question to this if I may. Often in interviews, before I can say hello, candidates will often kick things off by saying “hey man, how’s it going? It’s great to meet you”. As someone who is non-binary, I find this hurtful and I’m not sure how to respond to this without creating a tense interview experience. By default, I ignore it and move on. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this type of situation?

    • I’d suggest mentioning something in the pre-email. Maybe in your email signature, or even in the email, when you explain how the call will go, you mention that you’ll ask them about pronouns. “I’m non-binary and use they/them pronouns.” Mention it ahead of time.

      In the moment, I know it’s SO hard. I think it’s a matter of your comfort zone. My instinctual reaction was to say something along the lines of “Great to meet you! Just a heads up, I am non-binary and I prefer gender neutral terms. Thank you for being considerate.”

      The third dimension: if they keep it up or get offended? Probably a unique and helpful culture proof point.

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