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Inclusive action for all gender identities

14 July: To mark International Non-Binary People's Day, Nicky Burr and Nicola Robson from EY share their experiences of being trans and non-binary, and why raising awareness of these issues in businesses is important.

14 July 2020 marks International Non-Binary People's Day, which is aimed at celebrating individuals worldwide who identify as non-binary. There has been a lot of positive progress over the last few years as many businesses continue to take action to create environments where the LGBT+ community feel they belong, can be their full selves, and thrive as a result. 

Active allyship and understanding lived experiences have been key to this, but efforts to include all gender identities must continue. Engaging with allies across your organisation, locally, regionally and globally, and also through external organisations such as Stonewall and myGwork, can help to create a culture of inclusion. 

Nicola Robson, senior in the Private – Tax Compliance and Reporting team at EY who identifies as non-binary, told ICAEW Insights: “Educating yourself and those around you can have a significant impact on the everyday lives of individuals who identify as non-binary. Increasing awareness and having open conversations can help ensure everyday language and behaviours are inclusive.

“A good ally is someone who is able to create an atmosphere which feels really safe and encourages you to open up about your gender identity,” continued Robson. “They actively help amplify voices within the community.” 

Listening to the experience of employees and working closely with networks will provide significant insight and guidance for new initiatives and actions. EY’s Unity network, an employee-led LGBT+ network, often acts as a sounding board for policies and is also collaborating closely with the EY Women’s Network on this agenda.

Tim Jarman, LGBT+ Diversity & Inclusion lead at EY UK&I, adds: “When the firm introduced ‘self-identification’ on its HR system, the network was actively involved. When our gender identity, expression and transition guidelines were introduced, our trans and non-binary colleagues were actively consulted. The guidelines, which provide key terminology and points of contact to help develop an action plan for transitioning in the workplace, together with support and guidance for non-binary people are a really valuable resource available to all our people.” 

Nicky Burr, taxonomy lead at EY, says: “When I transitioned three years ago, I had a lot of support from my team, our Diversity & Inclusion colleagues and HR. Since then, I’ve felt truly able to bring my whole self to work. I’m far more effective in my day-to-day job, feel more confident in meetings and generally, I’m just more comfortable in my own skin. A lot of that stems from the encouraging response at the start of my transition. I feel lucky that my experience was positive as I know that’s not the case for everyone.”

An inclusive culture where all employees can achieve their potential creates real business value. Diverse voices bring diverse insights, leading to better solutions for clients, and it’s essential they’re able to speak up and be heard. 

Businesses have a vital role to play in driving awareness for LGBT+ communities, both in the workplace and also in wider society. Leveraging the strengths of internal networks, collaborating with external organisations, and being vocal on these issues can help increase understanding and maintain momentum on this important agenda.


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