Recently, a U.K. survey for pupils aged 13–18 made the news for including 24 gender options in a multiple-choice question that asked young people to define their gender. The survey was intended to “explore young people’s experiences of gender” and “raise awareness of the wider spectrum of gender identity,” according to a January 2016 article in The Telegraph. Critics argued that it might confuse children; however, activists praised the survey for allowing young people the opportunity to express themselves. This got us thinking, and ultimately inspired us to update our own Your Workplace contact information form.
Gender inclusivity is increasingly becoming a hot topic in the workplace. Most employee surveys include a multiple-choice option of “male” or “female.” It is basic demographic data we want — and often need — to capture. However, providing just “male” and “female” as options is no longer adequate. How should an employee who self-identifies as neither gender (or both) answer that question? How should an employee who biologically does not fit into either category reply?
Dr. Kristie Overstreet, a clinical sexologist and psychotherapist who provides consulting and training for corporations around the world, suggests giving multiple options on forms, including: male, female, transgender male, transgender female, agender, gender queer, gender non-conforming, and other (with a blank beside it). “This shows the employee that your organization is inclusive and recognizes the vast options when it comes to identifying gender. It demonstrates to the employee that they can be honest and open with who they are. Also, by providing the “other” option, he or she can fill in the blank with the gender that best describes him or her. This will help the employee feel safe and valued by their employer,” says Overstreet.
If you feel that including that many options may be too big a change for organization, or if there is not enough room on your form to accommodate all of the choices (as happened to us), Overstreet says that including just an “other” field and a blank is also a great option — and, we would argue, should be a requirement in this day and age.