Unexpected Barriers to Gender Inclusivity in the Workplace

In the past year at Sky Betting and Gaming colleagues of mine have created groups to meet, discuss and try and address various diversity issues. We have a Women in Tech group and more recently the Diversity group for the Bet Tribe with the aim of improving our diversity as a whole. We have discussed a range of topics from how job ads may put people off applying if the language is gender biased to how our company celebrations are often after work and may not suit the lifestyle of those who are parents. The meetups are usually monthly so hopefully we’ll be able to follow through on action points and address any diversity issues we have.

After the recent meetup I started to wonder about gender identity and how inclusive we are for those who identify as non-binary. To find out more I contacted one of our HR Administrators and asked about whether we collect gender information, if we ever assume gender and if we allow for gender and titles other than the typical female/male or Miss/Mrs/Mr etc. As expected gender information is collected after an applicant is successful as part of their onboarding and I was glad to find out that we never assume gender or fill it out for anyone although we only offer male/female for gender and other than Dr there are no gender neutral titles such as Mx or Ind.

The response I received included an explanation about why we require gender in the first place and why they are the only options offered, and it turns out that it is a requirement for HMRC in order to allow the employee to be paid. The options provided are female/male and the selection made must match the birth certificate or gender reassignment document for that person. This is something I hadn’t even considered and should imagine it will be a barrier to companies who wish to be more inclusive of other genders. If we were to provide options for non-binary genders and gender neutral titles for our internal systems we would still require each employee to identify as female/male for HMRC which I can only guess would still alienate some employees. Would this be better than only providing female/male for both internal and external systems? As someone who is cisgender I can’t possibly claim to know or imagine how someone would feel in that position.

It surprises me actually as HMRC have a public diversity plan so they are conscious about having a diverse workforce of their own and whilst one of the aims relates to inclusion it is light on detail in regards to gender. There are several companies noted for their inclusivity however the information I have found so far seems to be when they are providing a service as opposed to how they handle payroll and their employees.

Right now it seems we’re limited from providing a perfect solution and maybe we can learn from other companies though I don’t see a way round the HMRC requirement for assigned gender. I guess at the very least if we allow people to choose their preferred pronouns like TravisCI do on their Slack profiles then it may offer some small comfort as it would hopefully reduce misgendering and raise awareness with other employees. That said I would much rather see HMRC remove the requirement or remove the binary restrictions when selecting gender.