Today, after many month (well almost a year), the General Manager of my workplace has posted the following statement on the organisation’s intranet today:
Title: Supporting diversity at [workplace business name]
Sub title: Respecting people who identify or express their gender differently from that which was assigned at birth
Earlier this year our colleague, [my name], sent out an email asking colleagues to please use gender neutral pronouns (them, their and they) and to use the name [my name] when referring to them. This email did not get sent to all staff at the time and with [my name]’s permission we are ensuring everyone is updated through this announcement.We’d like to thank everyone who has acknowledged and affirmed [my name] in their identity and for creating a safe work space by referring to them in the way that they have requested.
However, there have been some instances where responses have been disrespectful. Unfortunately these have continued over a number of months. Sometimes it can be difficult to change entrenched language, but it is important that we find simple and respectful ways to correct ourselves and each other, if we are using the wrong pronoun or name.
It is important that if you do find yourself misgendering others, that you correct yourself in a respectful and brief way that affirms your compassion and commitment to changing your use of language. For example, if you say “Oh, I’m too old fashioned”, “I just don’t get it”, “This is really hard”, using an exasperated or dismissive tone, please consider the significant negative impact that this may have on a colleague or client. If you are reminded of the correct pronouns or name, simply offer your thanks, a brief apology, and move on.
One way to be a good ally is to seek education and we are pleased to announce that [staff member’s name] has volunteered to be a Gender Diversity Workplace Champion at [workplace name]. If you would like to discuss ways you can support gender diverse people please feel free to speak to [Gender Diversity Workplace Champion staff member’s name] or myself. It is good not to rely solely on the person you are trying to support for information as this can be difficult for them if they are being constantly asked the same questions.
Going forward we are also pleased to announce that in 2016 [workplace business name] will be launching a Gender Diversity Policy in support of staff and clients whose gender identity or expression is different from that which was assigned at birth or that which is expected of them by society. The Gender Diversity Policy will formally affirm our organisational commitment to providing both a workplace and clinical services that are safe and empower gender diverse people both professionally and personally and will underpin our Code of Conduct. Our Code of Conduct is aligned with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and includes the standard of ‘Respect for people’ clearly articulating the requirement that staff will not discriminate against or harass anyone, because of their gender identity. Alongside this policy, a range of educational resources will also be available.
In the meantime if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to speak to [Gender Diversity Workplace Champion staff member’s name] or myself.
In addition, the following proposed actions will be taken as listed below:
· Follow up intranet announcement in a few weeks with links to selected resources
· Communication to Centre Supervisors
· Visiting team meetings to highlight announcement
· Development of a Gender Diversity Policy and appropriate procedures
· Changing of signage on the toilets currently labelled ‘unisex’ to ‘All genders’ toilet (further consultation on signage)
· Launch of the Policy in 2016 and related resources – to be planned.
It was also noted that the Gender Diversity Workplace Champion staff member currently includes a section in the induction about gender identity/diversity and informs new staff about me (with my permission).
Executive have endorsed all actions.