Erased: LGBT Self-Identification At Work

A few months ago, I was invited to be part of an ethics board on AI for Arena Analytics. How cool that this even exists, right? Their realization of the idea is even better than you think. I’m surrounded by insanely smart people from talent acquisition, law, education, and technology companies to learn about ethical boundaries so we can help this company create a more ethical hiring tool with AI.I didn’t realize it would teach me about LGBT self-identification at work in that data.

All the nerd joy right here.

OK, so the other thing I love? One part of our commitment to this ethics board is to sit down with each member to learn from them 1-1. A few weeks ago, I sat down with Meredith K Broussard, who is, well you can read the bio and get the extended version here. The short story? She is insanely intelligent and speaks on artificial intelligence, AI ethics, data journalism, and education.

During our 1-1 session, we got into the topic of erasure in data. See, AI means a lot of different things to many different people. However, there’s one thing they have in common: they start with a big data set.

When it comes to hiring and pretty much every other category and industry, there’s a lot of data left out. As our society has become more inclusive and open to gender non-conforming and trans people, employers have not as routinely invested in updating their systems to collect those inputs. Meredith pointed out that this means as anyone is building an AI platform that looks at gender somehow, they’re missing a massive data set.

HR’s Data Demographics: LGBT Self-Identification At Work

Employers generally capture employee demographic information in two ways:

  1. confidential employee records and
  2. anonymous employee engagement surveys.

Whether storing this information as part of the HRIS record or collecting it in a survey, our teams need to be sensitive to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer employees in how they request the information. We also need to expand the options for transgender and gender non-conforming employees to self-identify beyond the binary of female/male. The question of gender with only “female” and “male” options doesn’t represent everyone anymore.

But how do you ask without offending (or breaking the law)?

Here are some examples. Shout out to Tamara Rasberry, another member of the Arena board, for sharing this with me and HRC’s Workplace Equality Program for sharing their examples for LGBT self-identification at work.


Our company does not discriminate on the basis of gender identity or gender expression. In order to track the effectiveness of our recruiting efforts and ensure we consider the needs of all our employees, please consider the following optional question:

What is your gender?
☐ Female
☐ Male
☐ Non-binary/ third gender
☐ Prefer to self-describe _____ ☐ Prefer not to say

Transgender is an umbrella term that refers to people whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth. Other identities considered to fall under this umbrella can include non-binary, gender fluid, and genderqueer – as well as many more.

Do you identify as transgender?
☐ Yes
☐ No
☐ Prefer not to say

These are a few of many options. Of course, the right choice for your company will depend on how you’ll use the data, the company’s current LGBTQ inclusion programs, and more.

Belonging: Pronoun Guide For HR.

Tracking is just one dimension of inclusion. It takes work and learning. That’s why I’m announcing my latest ebook: a guide for HR to learn pronouns and how to be an ally. In this book, you’ll get a comprehensive breakdown of what pronouns are, what they mean to me, and advice on being a better ally and support system for people in your company and community.

I hope these stories and lessons can help you move along that spectrum from knowing to accepting and allyship at work.

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LGBT and Diversity recruiting

Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive 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,, 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.

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