Gender Allyship in Organizations
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Allyship behaviors, such as the use of one’s pronouns in emails or beginning introductions with pronoun sharing, are becoming more common practices in organizations. However, there is little consensus on the best way to implement these types of ally behaviors in organizations to effectively create inclusive workplaces. Additionally, it is possible that some of the ways people and organizations are implementing ally behaviors and policies are inadvertently creating less gender inclusive spaces. In the current work we examine how subtle changes in the implementation of gender inclusive ally behaviors impact how transgender, gender non-conforming, and cisgender people feel about how inclusive a given manager, co-worker, or work environment is. First, we conducted interviews and open-ended response surveys; we find evidence that many transgender and gender non-conforming people want the use of pronouns to become more common, but that it should always be optional to not force people to out themselves in spaces they do not feel safe to do so or in spaces they do not want their gender to become salient in. Building off this qualitative data, in two quantitative experiments we find additional evidence that people view optional disclosure policies are more inclusive compared to policies where they are highly encouraged to share, and this perception of inclusion is mediated by feelings of pressure to disclose one’s pronouns at work. These findings provide evidence that subtle changes in how pronouns are asked for and implemented in organizations can lead to differences in how inclusive a manager and the work environment are viewed. The current work reinforces the idea that using pronouns does create more gender inclusion, as found in previous work, however, it is important to pay attention to the specific way in which people and organizations implement the use of pronouns and other ally behaviors, as the nuance does matter.
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