GENDER IN THE MARKETPLACE: No Room for ‘No Response’

GenderInTheMarketplaceIn all job applications, the field marking the applicant’s sex has always a red asterisk, making the choice between ‘male’ and ‘female’ essential. Recently, two new boxes made their appearance giving the jobseeker the option not to disclose their gender, virtually putting their mind at ease and practically their CV in the shredder.

In rare occasions, only when the employer takes pride in their inclusivity, the word ‘transgender’ might make a shy appearance in the dreadful gender marking box. The dilemma for the jobseeker is even tougher and the application takes a taunting toll through ‘marketplace customs’.

Should I declare to the potential employer my pursue of gender reassignment before even the interview stage? Will I ever get to the interview stage?

Fully understanding the importance of diversity in the workplace, the ‘inclusivity form’, as many use to call it nowadays, might be the right tool for the employer to balance out staff numbers according to the equal opportunities guidelines. In fact, those forms are extremely useful for mapping ethnical minorities within the company, draw a powerful team of employees practicing religions from all over the world and guarantee a broad age spectrum within any organisation. It’s great to have the data to build a strong support network within work and to connect with colleagues with the same heritage, culture and background while celebrating your tradition with management. However, there are no party-poppers when it comes to gender.

Reality fuelled perceptions still stand strong in the world of employment. It’s not a secret that most employers will not hire a transgender person in the early stages of the way. They might be afraid that the applicant’s work will be affected by the psychological consequences following the drastic changes in the person’s physique. Other employers might be dreading to issue medical leaves for surgery on newly-hired personnel and some might simply be reluctant to deal with the back-office work that accompanies data-changing paperwork for someone who has not changed all their legal information yet.

Thankfully, in the UK, the Equality Act is a strong shield against any discrimination based on gender or any other aspect of an individual’s identity. But when it comes to a job application, gender becomes a paradox, while disability declaration is still a prerequisite and most of the times secures an interview.

In other words, if you declare your disability on the form and you opt for the ‘guaranteed interview scheme’ you will definitely get a chat with the employer. On the contrary, if someone in transition from female to male ticks ‘male’ in the gender box is less likely to receive a call from HR. Pushing further, if this individual likes girls and ticks ‘heterosexual male’ in the sexuality checklist, he will most likely get a rejection email because in the eyes of HR he will just be ‘another stereotypical bloke’ in the room.

The focal point of this article is not to be judgemental against anyone’s disability or gender identity, nor to compare these two in any way. What matters most is to showcase the grey area where many employers get lost exploring when it comes to an applicant’s gender declaration. Starting with application forms with fewer gender boxes to tick, the goal is to change established perceptions and get employers eager to hire individuals embarking on the journey of their lifetime.

At the end of the day, all diversity needs is safety, reassurance and room to do our jobs in the best way possible.