As our culture evolves, so too do our practices around gathering. As event professionals, it’s our responsibility to remain attuned to shifts in culture, and one of the biggest shifts in recent years has been around gender identity. Gender is no longer perceived as a dichotomy, but rather as a sliding scale. Here are 5 tips sure to help make everyone on that scale feels welcome at your events.
1. Avoid gendering people
When speaking at an event — whether one-on-one or to the entire room — ensure that the language you are using does not assume gender. When addressing a group, don’t start by saying “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.” Instead, simply say, “Good evening, everyone.” When introducing a speaker, avoid using “she” or “he” unless you have received clear directives on their preference. Instead, use their name: “Sarah has achieved great things.”
2. Add pronouns to name tags
We’ve seen the increase of social media platforms offering the ability for users to state their pronoun preferences — now it’s time for the analog world to catch up. If you’re creating name tags, consider also adding a prompt for pronouns. This reduces the chance that an attendee is misgendered and will communicate your awareness of and sensitivity to the issue.
3. Ensure gender diverse speakers
We all know diverse speakers are a must for any public event today — and it’s high time, too. This applies to race, age, gender and other dimensions of diversity. Do you have cisgender speakers? Great! Do you have trans or non-binary or gender non-conforming speakers? Wonderful! The more diverse the profiles, the richer the diversity of perspectives for your audience to glean insight from, as well.
4. Hire suppliers with explicit inclusive policies
For a bold statement toward inclusivity, there’s no better than seeking out partners that have inclusion at the heart of their business models. The HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index shares a list of employers that are committed to implementing LGBTQ+-inclusive policies and practices.
5. Opt for all-access washrooms
Venue washrooms have been poorly designed for years. How many times have we witnessed long lines for a certain gender while another gender never seem to have to wait? All-access washrooms, now the norm in newly designed restaurants and public spaces in Montréal, avoid awkward co-mingling and rather just provide separate stalls for everyone, no matter where they are on the gender spectrum. Most venues understand this and can adapt their existing facilities to your specifications.
Need extra support?
If you’re looking to shift the culture of your organization, visit the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce website (CGLCC) for ideas and programs.
Canada is home to over 28,000 LGBT+-owned businesses, and these businesses generate over $22 billion in economic activity, employing over 435,000 Canadians. In other words, LGBT+ business is big business and the CGLCC helps it thrive.
Explore the seminars, events and podcast the CGLCC offers — and various other forms of assistance on offer.
Read this next: Montréal: City of diversity and inclusivity