I took courses in college on propaganda and persuasion with no idea just how useful they would be over the last few years. In those classes we studied the headlines, materials, presentation styles, and stories to understand the highly coordinated effort used to make people believe something that’s often contrary to common sense and the greater good.
The key component of propaganda is bringing people together through division. By teaching people how to determine who the “other” is and convincing them that they are better than this group of people, they create two sides. Binaries that make us believe we are at war with one another. The more they create this division, the better they are at this propaganda machine.
If you’ve read the headlines lately, you may know trans and gender non-conforming people are the “others” some people in our society are at war with. The only people winning anything are politicians trying to invest in division for political gain. But this isn’t a new thing. The last few years, we have had more anti-trans and anti-LGBT legislation than we did in the 10 years prior.
Anti-LGBT Laws Impact Lives
Laws that impact our communities impact our people and work. We can’t pretend that we live two separate lives and we’re one person at work while leaving all our worries behind when we login. The biases that happen at home linger, too. A recent three-phase study from Business.com revealed bias against nonbinary people, both in the workplace and during the job search process. Nothing surprising, but everything that’s disappointing about living out loud.
- More than 80 percent of nonbinary people believed that identifying as nonbinary would hurt their job search.
- Though most companies were Equal Opportunity Employers, a test resume with pronouns received less interest and fewer interview invitations than a control resume with no pronouns.
- Managers were less likely to want to contact an applicant whose resume included “they/them” pronouns.
As we hear about more layoffs every day, the quotes from managers in this study were heartbreaking. I’m not going to share them here because they make me feel like shit. But here’s the bottom line: Despite increased awareness of the gender spectrum and the growing popularity of workplace bias training, employers need to do more when new laws against trans people are being voted on every day.
Practicing Allyship In The Workplace
We have to go past the one-click-pass bias training and start telling stories and promoting allyship in the workplace. It’s a whole lot easier to hate something you don’t know. Someone you don’t know. Someone without a face, feelings. Someone whose hand you’ve never shook, whose stories you’ve never heard.
That’s one of the reasons I speak about my life during workplace pronoun trainings at companies and events around the world. After I came out as trans and non-binary, the people that respect and love me had questions. The same questions a lot of my colleagues asked once I came out to them online.
With all of those common questions about pronouns and allyship in hand, I created this 1 hour presentation I want to share with your team this June (and any month, really). We can talk about it if you book a meeting here.
I have seen first hand how special it is when companies invest in pronoun education and allyship in the workplace. It allows people to see their company show vs tell their support for the LGBT+ community. It doesn’t just change their culture and how they interact with each other. It allows these people to be better everywhere – better employees, better parents, better friends, and better communicators.
The results? Well, they’re priceless. Here’s what one person shared:
I have to share all the awesome stuff that has happened since I reached out to you. First, as a team, we discussed. One of the things you mentioned to me is that when you get pronouns wrong (when someone has shared the pronouns they use), it feels like getting their name wrong. That hit me and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I shared this with the team, and it created a really wonderful time of reflection. Second, we have had many other employees share their pronouns – and specifically a couple who had recently come out that they are non-binary. I had one individual in particular come to me to share with me first, before they shared with their team, and asked how “we” can work together to ensure a smooth transition. I really let them lead the way, but was there every step. Third, I rarely hear mistakes anymore. People have been sooo accepting and welcoming. Fourth, as a company, we encourage team members to put their pronouns in the email signature, and on their company intranet profile.
What You Can Do Now
- Book a meeting here Let me teach your team about pronouns and allyship at work.
- Join 3 friends and I for a panel about allyship at work on May 4th at 2pm Eastern. You can register here.
Here’s what you can expect to learn:
- What we can all do at work to create places where everyone can thrive,
- Why pronouns matter,
- Advice on creating ERGs and programming during Pride from people doing the work,
- Ways you can build benefits programs that support everyone’s health,
- Attendee-led Q&A where you can learn and network with peers in the chat,
- and you get to be a part of a very special launch. That’s a surprise you’ll have to attend to hear about.
Hope to see you there.
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, 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.