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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

How to create a more equitable work environment for Trans, Non-Binary, and Gender Non-Conforming employees

lgbt workplace equity

One of the core reasons why many nonprofits exist is to better society by achieving their missions. Whether it’s through affordable healthcare, achieving broader human rights or providing world-class art, many nonprofits aim to change the world for the better. That being said, missions are difficult to achieve without collaboration and trust. Thankfully, nonprofits are still one of the most trusted institutions across business, but trust has been trickling away.

Outside of a nonprofit’s ability to prove a positive impact on society, the second largest contribution to societal trust is integrity. This includes adhering to a set of principles that are transparent and credible like treating all employees fairly and equitably regardless of their identity or background. A nonprofit’s mission statement is tied to the organization’s principles to achieve its goals.

Trans, Non-Binary & Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) people are among the most discriminated groups within general society and the workplace. When they achieve equitable benefits and treatment that is specific to their well-being can nonprofits say they are actively working towards being morally and ethically just.

Language in Non-Discrimination policies

The primary non-discrimination or Equal Employment Opportunity policy must include the term “gender identity or expression” or “gender identity.”

Gender transition guidelines

A protocol should be implemented to delineate the responsibilities and expectations of transitioning employees. A transition guideline file should be readily available from human resources to appropriately manage the situation.

Pronoun proactivity

Create a culture of introducing yourself using your gender pronouns. This can be through introductions through Zoom meetings and placing them within your email signatures. These small changes can signify your organization is inclusive of TGNC employees and cognizant of their needs.

Diversity & Inclusion training

Having conversations through education sessions, often done by trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming advocates can build a community of trust and understanding. Research local LGBTQ+ nonprofits that offer these trainings. They deliver lasting results and can help improve a business’ internal culture and recruitment process.

Increase inclusivity in healthcare & family care benefits

Health care needs for TGNC employees such as gender-affirming care should be covered in benefits. Costs can be prohibitive and coverage is essential to decrease a financial strain. Have potential treatment options and resources readily available.

Gender Neutral restrooms

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states “All employees, including transgender and gender-nonconforming employees should have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.”

Dress code update

A gender-neutral dress code can destigmatize varying expressions of gender. Make explicit all employees may select from a range of dress shirts, pantsuits, skirt suits, etc.

Mediation and time away can be your friend

Even with the most well-thought-out inclusive procedures in place, discrimination, ignorance, and stigma are not going to disappear. Change takes time. Offering a safe space to listen to issues or even time away can significantly lessen the burden of an employee who had a difficult day because of something out of their control.

Luke Blankenship is a 2023 graduate of the Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management program at Arizona State University. Located in New York City, he is currently the Sr. Manager of Events & Experiences with GLSEN, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ+ Youth in the K-12 school system. With 10-years of experience working for LGBTQ+ nonprofits, Luke is deeply passionate about creating a better world for queer people and allies.

Image by Lillian Finley


Public Allies Arizona helps underrepresented emerging leaders serve their communities

Public Allies Arizona is changing the face and practice of leadership throughout Phoenix and Tucson communities by demonstrating our conviction that everyone can lead, and that lasting change results when citizens of all backgrounds step up, take responsibility and work together.

We are a 10-month AmeriCorps program that places emerging leaders in paid nonprofit internships with partner organizations in the community. Allies come from many backgrounds and do not need to attend ASU. Our mission is to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it.

Luke Blankenship


ASU Lodestar Center Blog