Hiring Diversely Pt. 2: Intake and Onboarding
Now that we’ve talked a little about how to hire queer and trans people, I’d like to discuss the far more important subject of retention. Again, the principle at work here is that aside from your usual retention strategy, you’ll also need to add some simple infrastructure that prevents your company from continually outing your employees. Again, all of these modifications to your existing infrastructure can be made very easily.
When you hire a newbie, they’ll have to fill out paperwork, and this part of the process is particularly fraught for queer and trans people. The first, most important thing is that your standard-issue new hire paperwork should be modified to include a “preferred name” slot before the “legal name” slot. That way, instead of implying that the legal name is more important (and essentially treating the employee’s real name as a nickname), you will show that you’re a company that regularly hires people whose names differ from their legal names, and that while legal names must be collected, your employee’s actual name is the one that matters.
In addition to this, please mark any part of your paperwork that actually requires use of the legal name with a note saying “legal name required.” That way your employees whose names differ from their legal names won’t have to keep drawing your attention to their gender by asking you if their legal name is required.
As part of your new hire packet, also include a spot for employees to write their preferred pronouns. You collected them in the cover letter so that you could have a positive interaction and set the correct pronouns in your head, but collect these in your official paperwork as well.
Once you’ve included these modifications, your job is to make sure that this info is only available to those that need it, but that it is easily available to those that need it. Based on the structure of your company, you’ll know who this is.
Lots of companies send out a company-wide welcome email when they’ve gained a new hire, and this practice (when done right) is highly beneficial to queer employee retention. Include a bit of background, preferred pronouns, and a photo of their choosing so that people connect the name/pronoun with the person. Welcome emails are fun and generate excitement, and including pronouns for every employee is a great way to make your company a welcoming place for queer and trans people as well as cis people.
In lots of companies, paychecks get sent in a bundle to a place where all employees will have a chance to grab theirs. Employees then sort through the stack and pull their paycheck out of the bundle by finding their name. As an employer, there’s a wrong way to send these checks and a right way.
The wrong way is to have envelopes with windows on them, so that your legal name as written on the check shows through. This is obviously problematic if you think about it, and also very easy to avoid. The right way is to use an envelope with no viewing window and write the employee’s name on the front.
It’s that simple.
Easy does it
These tips are all quick, easy, and low-cost or free. If you do want a more gender-diverse staff, it’s well within your reach. The next part of this series will discuss how to navigate HR issues at company and industry events as well as company-sponsored travel.