The Guide to Gender-Inclusive Leadership

May 30, 2023
3 min

The Guide to Gender-Inclusive Leadership

Gender Identity Explained

Gender identity is a personal conception of one’s own gender; often in relation to a gender opposition between masculinity and femininity. Gender expression is how people externally communicate or perform their gender identity to others. 1 As leaders, we understand that gender is an important aspect of a person's identity and impacts their sense of self, relationships, and overall well-being. It is important to understand and respect a team member’s gender identity, as it is a fundamental human right to be able to express oneself authentically. 

Gender Diversity & How to Engage

Gender identities consist of male, female, transgender, gender neutral, non-binary, agender, pangender, genderqueer, two-spirit, third gender, all, none, or a combination of these. It’s important for leaders to understand the makeup of their team and how to interact inclusively. Pronouns are a great example. Check out this quick video for a helpful framework from our head of training, Holly O’Hern.  Another practice to use is when starting a meeting with a group, say “Hello Everyone” instead of addressing any specific gender (to replace, “Hey guys” as your default greeting). Also, asking a person about their pronouns, be sure to remove “preferred” from your ask.2

Be an Ally

Allyship starts with being a good listener and open to learning more. It is also essential to validate and support the experiences and identities of gender-diverse individuals while recognizing that everyone's experience of gender is unique and valid. In addition, do your own research to learn about people within or outside of your industry that identify as gender-diverse. For example, people like Miley Cyrus, Olly Alexander, and Ruby Rose are all gender-diverse individuals. Take a moment to update your social media algorithm by following people from different communities in order to learn and appreciate varied perspectives. Learning more about different genders could help strengthen bonds with team members by having knowledge exchanges without asking them questions that can be answered with a Google search.

Impactful DEI Policies

Gender identity plays a crucial role in diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. It is essential to acknowledge the systemic barriers that impact gender-diverse individuals, including discrimination, harassment, and violence. Policies and practices should be implemented to ensure that all individuals, regardless of gender identity, have equal access to opportunities and resources. This includes providing gender-affirming healthcare, ensuring workplace equality, and promoting inclusive language and practices within the culture of the organization.4

Overall, understanding and respecting gender identity is essential for creating an inclusive and equitable environment on your team and in the organization. By educating ourselves, advocating for inclusive policies, and supporting gender-diverse individuals, we can work towards a more equitable organization.


  1. Mathison Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Glossary, Mathison, 2023
  2. Holly O’Hern, Mathison DEI Moments, 2023
  3. List of people with non-binary gender identities, Wikipedia, 2023
  4. Government laws and policies for gender equality, International Labour Organization, 2023

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