A culture of inclusion is key to success

  • Published
  • Air Force Materiel Command Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

In 2021, the White House declared March 31 as the Transgender Day of Visibility. The goal of this day is to celebrate the contributions and resilience of every transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary American, along with their communities.

In recognition of TDoV, the Air Force Materiel Command’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Initiatives Team would like to highlight the importance of inclusion for transgender people across the mission and how individuals can support command and Air Force-wide inclusion efforts.

It is common for someone’s first thought on transgender inclusion to be, “Why does this matter? The transgender community is such a small percentage of the population.” The 2020 Gallup poll does show that transgender people comprise only about 0.6% of the American population. However, since then, young people have felt more comfortable with openly identifying as transgender or non-binary. Approximately 1.2% of Millennials (born 1981-1996), and 1.8% of Gen Z (born 1996-2012), openly identify as either transgender or non-binary, and 25% of Millennials and 35% of Gen Z know someone who uses pronouns outside of the binary. These include pronouns such as they/them, or combination pronouns such as she/they.

As the Gen Z workforce population grows, it is likely they will personally know someone who is transgender or non-binary, and they will expect their leadership to understand transgender identities and create culture of inclusion.

Understanding issues related to gender identity is becoming critical to attraction and retention of young, up-and-coming talent. Glassdoor.com recently released a poll that showed 76% of job seekers say that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating whether or not they will accept a job offer.

One way to foster a culture of inclusion is to add personal pronouns to email signature blocks. On December 9, 2021, the Tongue and Quill was updated to allow pronouns in email signature blocks. While this may not seem like a big deal, it can influence whether someone will stay in their organization. According to the Wall Street Journal, 32% of transgender people frequently think about leaving their organization versus 21% of cisgender people (people whose gender identity aligns with their sex assigned at birth), and 18% of transgender people expect to stay at their current organization for less than a year due to lack of inclusion.

By adding pronouns to your signature block, you can communicate that you respect all gender identities and that people can be open about who they are when talking to you. Including pronouns in email signatures can also help transgender and non-binary people, as well as people with non-Western or androgynous names, focus on their job versus having to take time to correct coworkers on their gender identity. It can be mentally exhausting to constantly be misgendered, and adding pronouns can eliminate some of those awkward conversations.

Conversations about transgender and non-binary inclusion are starting to happen all over AFMC and the Air Force. If you do not feel comfortable talking about gender identity issues because you do not understand the terminology or the various identities used by this community, you are not alone, and there is always time to learn. Supervisors and allies can make a big difference by holding discussions and conversations on inclusion while promoting activities that create a culture welcoming of all.