Filling out a job application has to be one of the most undervalued experiences. We all pretend like it’s no big deal: click, click, and you’ve applied. But that’s not what’s happening behind the screen. What’s happening behind the screen is that we’re building up our hopes and dreams. We’re imagining changing our whole life for this dream.
We start to imagine the relief we would feel to be able to give those two weeks’ notice. To tell that boss to kiss your ass. While it might just be a “1, 2, 3, click” for you, for someone else, everything is on the line. When you think of it that way, it makes that whole candidate experience audit feel too simple, right? A broken link isn’t as costly as a broken dream.
Now let’s add a twist. Let’s say this person is non-binary. They are having all these same dreams: the dream of the new commute, that middle finger to the boss. Now you have an optional section where they can report their gender – but their gender isn’t listed. There’s no place to give you their pronouns. It might sound like a simple step that doesn’t really matter to you, but for someone who’s dreaming, it automatically means that their dream isn’t real anymore.
Data Behind Humans: Non-Binary and Trans Candidate Experiences
How are you supposed to dream if you can’t even feel seen?
For someone who’s non-binary, this tells them that it doesn’t matter. Their dream doesn’t matter. Their pronouns don’t matter. Who they are doesn’t matter. It happens in healthcare experiences, and it happens at work every day.
The U.S. Census doesn’t ask about gender identity. Until now, no population estimate of non-binary LGBTQ adults in the United States existed. There are about 1.2 million non-binary LGBTQ adults in the United States, according to the first broad-based population estimate of this kind.
If there’s no data, there’s no representation. And guess what that means? There’s no change. That’s the hard part about asking for people to notice you.
The crazy part about non-binary and trans identities is that they existed long before binary identities. Their stories were erased by colonization because the colonizers were so stuck in the binary that they were scared of the strength that came from people who represented both. They were the first people to be killed when colonizers took over lands. More on that in one of my favorite quick read books, Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon – you can read it here.
3 Ways to Build Gender Inclusion into Your Candidate Experiences
Here’s the bottom line: when we know better, we should do better. That means allowing people to self-identify.
Saying you are an ally and being an ally are two different things. If you’re looking to create belonging at your company for anyone who identifies as any gender, here are at least three minimums you must meet:
- Do you have a gender-neutral bathroom? I have a friend who won’t go back because they refuse to go to a bathroom where they don’t feel acknowledged. I don’t blame them.
- Do you educate your company on pronouns? Teach people how to make others feel safe in big and small ways. I do a 1 hour webinar on this topic I’d love to bring to your company. Book a meeting with me here if you want to talk about that.
- Do you allow people to self-identify in your drop-down systems? Simple one. Add the drop down.
Why Gender Matters in Your CxE*
*CxE: Candidate Experience
If anyone asks you why non-binary & trans candidate experiences even matter, it’s because this isn’t just about work.
When we educate people, make changes at work, and insist on something better in the corporate workplace, we are demanding better communities. We make people better parents, friends, and family members – and we make them better to each other. All because your company took the time to actually invest in peoples’ learning, not just slapping some pronouns on their desk or their email signature.
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.