How to Welcome Transgender and Nonbinary Applicants Into Your Organization | Part 2

How to Welcome Transgender and Nonbinary Applicants Into Your Organization | Part 2 was originally published on Idealist Careers.

In Part 1 of our two-part series, How to Welcome Transgender and Nonbinary Applicants Into Your Organization, we spoke to human resource experts at Lambda Legal, Chief of People & Culture Crystal Costello and Recruiter Shane Smoore, about building an inclusive culture for members of the transgender and gender-nonconforming (TGNC) community.

We hope the tips shared in Part 1 will help ensure your organization is supportive of people from all backgrounds and identities. Here in Part 2, we offer suggestions on how to extend that support to the application and interview process, whether you work in hiring, sit on interview panels, or are simply interested in nurturing a more diverse workforce.

Be intentional on job listings

When crafting a job listing, it’s standard practice to include an equal employment opportunity (EEO) statement to signal that your organization cares about fair hiring practices. But if the usual boilerplate doesn’t reflect your organization’s values or unique language, many applicants may gloss over it without understanding your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Crystal suggests that as a hiring manager, you truly reflect on the communities you want to apply to your job listings. Marginalized communities that have traditionally been excluded from employment opportunities may discount themselves from the application process if they don’t think they’ll meet traditional expectations.

“I know the real estate on job postings is tight, but specifically naming the communities you want to apply to your roles can be powerful,” says Crystal. “If we want people affected by HIV, who are transgender, who are gender nonconforming, or who have never been to college to apply, we want to do all we can to encourage them, as opposed to sharing a general EEO statement.” 

Adding your organization’s values to job listings can mean specifically sharing when life experience may substitute for education or career experience. Including a space for applicants to self-report pronouns can also signal that your organization is intentional about welcoming transgender and nonbinary applicants.

Translate your values to the interview process

The interview process varies across organizations with different budgets, sizes, teams, and positions available. Nevertheless, you can still welcome members of the TGNC community by considering how your interview outreach, questions, and process tie back to your commitment to diversity.

Ask staff from across the organization to participate

In addition to sharing information about the day-to-day tasks and role responsibilities, interviews are also an opportunity for job seekers to get a sense of how an organization functions. For this reason, asking people outside of the hiring team to participate in the interview process can provide applicants with insight into your organization’s culture.

“Currently, we host two panels that intentionally represent the diversity of our staff. These are not only people in different roles, at different levels, and in different departments, but who also have different racial identities, gender expressions, and so forth,” Crystal says. “We do that because if you say you want diverse voices and identities in your recruiting, then you have to center diverse voices at your organization.”

Share and ask for pronouns

It’s a misconception to think that only transgender and nonbinary applicants should share pronouns. Building an inclusive workforce requires all members of an organization to affirm each other’s identities, which can start by growing comfortable with regularly sharing and asking for pronouns.

“It’s a small thing to ask for pronouns, and trans and nonbinary applicants can feel even more supported by you referring to them correctly,” Shane says. “Making this a staple in your recruitment and interview process will make sure you never miss that opportunity to make someone feel included and welcomed.”

If a person’s legal documents do not align with their name or gender expression, it’s important to record their self-reported answers in your applicant tracking system (ATS). If your organization does not use an ATS, add a custom field to your current recruiting and interviewing templates.

Make sure every candidate has the same experience

Finally, ensuring your organization is committed to DEI means standardizing your recruiting and interview process. Shane shares that prioritizing equity in this way can mitigate the potential for bias to creep into your processes.

It may seem like there is an endless list of things to keep in mind to make sure you’re being inclusive, but what it all boils down to is compassion. Emphasizing your organization’s commitment to diversity starts by ensuring your processes value the person behind the job application, and treating them with the kindness and respect they deserve.


What’s the meaning behind equity and equality? Find out how the differences between these two concepts matter greatly to the people in your organization and to the populations you serve.