As you may recall, I have been asked to identify how we handle diversity in my department and devise a strategy to deal with any weak spots. I have started to meet with directors to get a sense of how they view how we are working with issues of diversity and equity. One meeting I had yesterday with a few directors was how we deal with asking the question of gender on surveys, our CRM software, applications etc, that we have out there.
My organization has just created a new policy on when were are permitted to even ask for gender on our forms etc, and if we do, how to word it, minimum excepted options to select, etc etc etc. I have discovered we do have some instances where we were asking for gender, where we did not have any real reason to. That is now gone. Other instances where we did ask, were actually handled relatively well, just a little tweak needed here and there. And one instance where we do ask, and are permitted to ask under the new policy, was not handled well. So, as of yesterday, that is now corrected.
All this to say, that there was no resistance anywhere at all! Everyone I spoke with yesterday was completely on board and got it. Changes were made almost immediately where possible, and in a few instances, may take a few days to get a programmer on it to make the changes. It was very heartening to see!
Everyone understands that this is coming from me because something like this would be coming from my office regardless of who was in the chair. However, as it is me, I think they all now understand the impact of asking such a question and the effect it has on the trans* community. They certainly don’t want to cause any undo stress of angst. And now that they know it can, due to my sharing of my experiences with the department when I “came out”, the get it. The result was some really good meetings. It made me feel really good about the people I work with, and my organization.
That is not to say that we are perfect, by no means! But we are getting there. There are still some really stupid practices going on that need to change, but change they will. Example…during our HR week last fall, the HR department was offering free lectures, activities and seminars for all employees. One of which was a free, one hour yoga class during work hours. I, being a lover of yoga, jumped on it! We were asked to sign in with our employee id, and provide our email address and….wait for it….gender!! WTF?!?!? What does gender have to do with taking a yoga class???!! Now, I can guess why they were asking, in that they were probably wanting to see how the programming was being used by men and women, so they can make adjustments to engage more of one or the other in future activities. But really? So, that will be disappearing for sure!
Slowly but surely, we make head way. You have to be in this game for the long haul. It ain’t going to change over night. Pick your battles, build on successes, and the war won’t look as hopeless or daunting. I keep moving forward….