The Top 10 Benefits of a DEIB Strategy in 2024

The Top 10 Benefits of a DEIB Strategy in 2024

Diverse team sitting at a table in a meeting.

In a world that’s increasingly recognizing the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), businesses that commit to these principles are positioned for phenomenal success in 2024 and beyond. It’s not just about keeping up appearances or even being socially responsible; it’s about fostering a thriving, dynamic workplace and a strong, lasting reputation. Let’s explore the top 10 benefits of embracing a DEIB strategy:

Retain Star Staff

We’ve all heard of the labor shortages, and we also know the pains of high turnover and the costs of repeatedly onboarding. When you prioritize DEIB, you create an environment where your top talents feel valued and respected. This not only helps retain your star staff but also attracts new, diverse talent looking for inclusive workplaces.

Gain More Market Share

Inclusivity attracts a wider customer base. If your customers see themselves mirrored in your team, they are more likely to return. Companies that genuinely embrace DEIB often enjoy increased market share as they resonate with diverse demographics.

Make More Money

It can be difficult to convince a small business to embrace DEIB just to do what’s right; it also must make sound financial sense. The data about profitability is overwhelmingly clear. Diverse teams bring unique perspectives, sparking innovation and creativity, which can lead to increased profitability.

Connect to Your Core Values

A DEIB strategy helps businesses align their actions with their core values. It’s not just a PR move; it’s a commitment to creating a workplace that reflects your beliefs and principles. Whether it’s integrity, sustainability or innovation, your DEIB strategy strengthens your values.

Have a Comeback When People Use Derogatory Terms

With a DEIB strategy in place, your organization is equipped to respond confidently and appropriately when derogatory terms or incidents occur. Part of creating belonging in your workplace, living your values and retaining top means that you demonstrate that exclusionary behavior is unacceptable.

Be Less Reactive and More Purpose-Driven

A DEIB strategy prepares your organization to handle diversity-related challenges proactively. Instead of reacting to issues with heightened emotions as they arise, you become purpose-driven, fostering a culture of belonging.

Use Updated Policies and a Clear Strategy

A well-defined DEIB strategy guides your decision-making process. It provides a framework for assessing opportunities and challenges through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This efficiency extends to hiring practices, promotions, and everyday operations. It helps with resolving disputes, because when your employees know what to expect, they’re more likely to trust the decision-making process. Moreover, it helps you set priorities and allocate resources wisely, ensuring that your efforts are directed toward initiatives that will have the greatest positive impact on your organization’s success.

Protect Yourself from Public Backlash

Businesses without a DEIB strategy often face public backlash when issues arise. With the popularity of social media, the public has little tolerance for organizations that don’t take a stand on social justice issues. With a proactive strategy, you’re less likely to be the target of negative attention.

Fearlessly Speak Up and Be Heard

Your employees are more likely to speak up when they know their voices will be heard and valued. A DEIB strategy empowers your team to share their insights, fostering a culture of open dialogue and a sense of belonging, and you get to benefit from the new ideas your team dares to share.

Better Understand Others’ Experience

Developing a better understanding of what others experience is a cornerstone of a successful DEIB strategy. It promotes empathy, which is essential for fostering positive workplace relationships. When individuals within an organization can relate to the experiences and challenges faced by their colleagues, it builds trust and mutual respect. This, in turn, leads to more effective collaboration as team members are better equipped to work together, appreciating each other’s unique perspectives and contributions. The result is a more harmonious and productive work environment.

Embracing a DEIB strategy isn’t just about fulfilling a social responsibility; it’s a strategic move that can significantly enhance your organization’s performance in 2024. By retaining talent, attracting new customers, and fostering innovation, you’ll position your business for long-term success while contributing to a more inclusive and equitable world.

Book a Discovery Call with me to explore how my Inclusive Communications Audit or introductory training can be tailored to meet your unique needs. Whether you’re seeking a comprehensive audit to assess your current DEIB strategy or initial training to kickstart your organization’s journey, I’m here to guide you every step of the way.

Transgender Kids and Sports

Transgender Kids and Sports

Children playing soccer
Our home was filled with musicals instead of football and hockey games while my children were growing up. How much of that was influenced by my preference for a theatre seat over an arena? We’ll never know. The point is that for years I have been able to avoid the topic of trans kids in sports because my kids didn’t play in organized gendered leagues. I also avoided the subject because it’s complex, nuanced, and not easily brushed aside with a canned response. But the public discourse on whether transgender children should be allowed to play sports is too loud and insidious to ignore any longer. Here are my well-researched thoughts on transgender kids and sports.

The Benefits

First, I want to address the physical and mental health benefits for all children participating in a sport they love to play. Kids learn about teamwork, the life lessons of winning or losing with grace, self-confidence, goal setting, time management and having fun while developing motor skills. Not including transgender kids in sports purposefully removes these benefits from their lives. However, including trans children in sports offers benefits to their teammates too! It teaches them inclusion and encourages values of non-discrimination, and it broadens their perspectives and allows for the development of empathy. Co-ed recreational teams have existed for decades at all age levels breaking down gender stereotypes and fostering inclusivity, empowerment, and self-confidence.

A Little Dose of Reality

I learned early on with my theatre kids that not every child who takes acting classes goes on to star in a Hollywood movie and even fewer win an Oscar—despite thousands of moms thinking their baby is the cutest thing alive. But that doesn’t mean they can’t love the theatre and have fun with every play. The same applies to sports. Not all sports players are destined to be in professional leagues and the Olympics. We need to let kids be kids and play sports for fun, and those children don’t need strangers to medically examine them before chasing a ball down the pitch and getting excited about it going into a net, even if it’s their own. There is a danger to all children when gender policing could subject girls to invasive tests or accusations of being “too masculine” or “too good” at their sport to play or compete.

Clarifying Transgender Terms

A child who socially transitions and only changes their pronouns and gender expression before puberty is a very different situation than a youth or young adult going through puberty or a medical transition. Before puberty, and when on puberty blockers, the child is a hormonal blank slate. Discussing physical differences between boys and girls shouldn’t exist because there are no secondary sex characteristics in pre-pubescent children.

My transgender son is on testosterone and has facial hair, body hair, broad muscular shoulders and he regularly works out. According to many new rules regarding trans kids in sports, he would be forced to compete on a girl’s team. Suppose you believe that transgender people should compete according to their sex assigned at birth in order to “protect” female athletes against unfair advantages that a trans girl might have. Do you really want my 18-year-old son to compete while on testosterone against female athletes? No. Let’s be honest, this is way more about trans women than trans men and reinforces the patriarchy, policing women’s bodies and stereotypes that women are weak and in need of protection and can’t “play like a boy.”

The Veiled and Overt Discrimination

Before we go around claiming that allowing trans girls to play sports will change the entire face of athletic competition, it’s essential to understand the reality of transgender women when it comes to sports. Saying they have an advantage just because they are transgender overlooks what they actually go through. They face a lot of challenges that give them a tougher time in many other aspects of life. They deal with higher rates of bullying, anxiety, and depression, making it much harder to train and compete. On top of that, they often face issues like homelessness and poverty due to family rejection, and getting to a competitive level in every sport is a very expensive endeavour. It’s no wonder we see so few transgender athletes dominating college sports or medalling in the Olympics. It’s not as simple as saying they have a physical advantage (which is scientifically debunked); there’s a lot more to consider.

I will admit to having been lulled into the idea that maybe transgender athletes should have their own separate leagues like we’re back in the “separate but equal” days. Can you imagine? Apart from all the reasons I’ve already mentioned about why this is unnecessary and the fact that there never would be enough trans athletes to create entire leagues because they are 1% of the population instead of 50%, it’s just plain unfair. Look at women’s sports leagues as an example. Separate doesn’t mean equal at all! Female athletes constantly face fewer rewards, less media attention, and lower pay. (Which, I might argue, is why some are so reluctant to welcome transgender women in their competitions.) If we had a transgender sports league, you can bet it would be dealing with the same problems.

Ultimately, I encourage everyone to let trans kids be kids and play sports like every other child on the team they feel most comfortable with. When they grow and venture into competitive sports, I say the International Olympic Committee framework gives excellent guidelines to follow that politicians need not relitigate.

Download the ebook Defining Transgender here to stay in touch through my newsletter, and don’t forget to grab your copy of Beyond Pronouns: The Essential Guide for Parents of Trans Children. 

Let Trans Kids Be Kids

Let Trans Kids Be Kids

The Shrek movie played on repeat in our household when it was first released. If you’ve never seen the movie, during one scene, Shrek (an ogre) tries to explain to Donkey that he’s more than what people imagine about being an ogre. They happened to be walking through an onion field, so Shrek uses onions as a metaphor. Donkey, of course, doesn’t understand the similarity: “They smell? They make people cry?” So, Shrek erupts and exclaims that onions have layers and so do ogres. Trans children, like all humans (and animated film characters), also have layers and live full lives beyond their gender identity.

The Breadth of Trans Existence

Transgender kids are students—some with neurodiversity and some with giftedness. They might love reading and anxiously await the release of the newest book from their favourite author. Trans children enjoy extracurricular activities like martial arts, visual arts or acting and are currently practicing for the end-of-school performance. They’re daredevils on their BMX bikes, challenging themselves to new tracks. They’re gamers celebrating their latest level-up. They’re begging their parents for a dog and promising they’ll walk it every day.

Gender-diverse youth are learning to drive and interviewing for their first part-time summer job. They’re passing notes in class and laughing at jokes, and creating memories. They’re embarrassed by their parents and think they know more than them. They need to clean their rooms and eat their vegetables. They make mistakes, learn from them, and then make different mistakes. Life is so much more for them than their body parts and what clothes they wear.

Who is not letting kids be kids?

A repeated comment on my social media posts and one of the loudest rallying cries I hear from people who oppose trans children is to “let kids be kids.” I’d love to! Every day that I don’t have to validate my kids’ existence to someone spouting hateful rhetoric, I’m letting my kids be kids. Funnily enough, the people demanding to let kids be kids are the exact people who focus on children’s genitalia and sexuality without understanding what being transgender as a child truly means.

Defining Transgender: Transgender and nonbinary people have a gender identity (how they think of themselves) or gender expression (how they dress, talk, and act) that differs from the sex or gender they were assigned at birth. Trans children first undergo a fully reversible social transition to the degree of their choosing that consists of changing their wardrobe, pronouns, name, and hairstyle.

When kids are reduced to just one portion of their identity—in this case, their gender and expression—the option to just be kids has been taken away from them. Some are removing their right to play sports despite the physical and mental health benefits. What is more childlike than playing?

Trans kids are not seen by some in society as fully realized human beings because everyone is so focused on the debate around their right to exist.

I speak to other parents of transgender kids and teens on a regular basis, and I can tell you that we are all exhausted and exasperated from having to fight for our child’s right to be themselves. My transgender son and daughter are authentic, beautiful, giving, smart, and caring people who deserve to be seen as more than their body parts or who they will date one day. Think about what they could accomplish if transphobia was removed from the equation. Really, they’d do exactly the same things they have been doing, only without the hate.

Download the ebook Defining Transgender here to stay in touch through my newsletter, and don’t forget to grab your copy of Beyond Pronouns: The Essential Guide for Parents of Trans Children. 

Traveling with a Trans Child

Traveling with a Trans Child

The pandemic restrictions have lifted for the most part, and many of us are just itching for a change of scenery after three long years. As a result, some families are looking at traveling with a transgender child for the first time. I remember very well the first time our family travelled within Canada with our trans son six years ago and the stress of not knowing how he would be received going through airport security. We are just now planning our first trip out of the country and going through a list of details to consider. Here are some things to take into account before you head out on vacation.

Know Where You Won’t Be Safe

It is unfortunate, but there are still many countries and cities where being a transgender youth can be unsafe. These places may have laws or societal attitudes that are hostile towards the LGBTQIA+ community, or more specifically, transgender children under the age of majority. Some examples of hostile countries would be Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia (read more of this list here), and even some states in the US that are working hard at passing bills that limit transgender rights. Even though those bills are valiantly being fought and opposed, you might face transphobic societal views if you choose to visit a place actively looking to limit where your child can use the bathroom or use gender-affirming medications. Here is a list of states that have created anti-trans legislation that you will want to keep in mind when choosing to vacation in America.

Going Through Airport Security

Going through airport security as a transgender person can be a daunting experience, particularly if the gender marker on your child’s ID or passport does not match their gender identity or expression. In such cases, it is important to know your rights and to be prepared to assert them if necessary. Airport security has guidelines in place to protect the privacy and dignity of transgender travelers in queer-friendly countries, which include offering the option of a pat-down instead of a full-body 3D scanner. Keep in mind it’s important to remain calm and assertive if you encounter any difficulties or discrimination during the security screening process and seek assistance from a supervisor or airport authority if needed. Of course, this means you will want to plan ahead to offer yourself enough time to go through any extra hoops. Here is a great article by the National Center for Transgender Equality on managing airport security.

Traveling With Meds

For transgender teens who are on cross-hormone therapy or other forms of medication, vacationing with these items can present unique challenges. It is important to check the laws and regulations of your destination state or country around taking gender-affirming hormones and the airline regarding the transportation of medications and needles. In general, it is recommended to carry medications and needles in their original packaging and to have a letter from your healthcare provider explaining the need for these items. We did this when we travelled with my son’s testosterone during our second cross-country flight. We’d had his legal name changed by then, which matched his appearance, and there were no questions asked. Better to have the letter and not need it than the other way around! Oh, and if your trans child wears prosthetics or other gender-affirming gear, you should also be aware of the regulations surrounding these items. It is advisable to pack any prosthetics or other gear in a carry-on bag to avoid damage or loss and to be prepared to explain the purpose of these items if necessary.

Resist the Urge to Ask Your Kid to Conform

I get it, it would be so much easier if your child could just be their assigned gender on the day you travel. Easier on you as a parent, that is—not on your child. Asking your kid to suck up their gender dysphoria for a day is not only unfair, but it can also be harmful to their mental and emotional well-being. For transgender people, being able to express their gender identity is crucial to their sense of self and overall happiness. Being forced to conform to societal norms or to hide their true selves can lead to feelings of shame, depression, and anxiety.

This does make life more complicated for us as parents of trans children in a world that isn’t always understanding. However, the burden of conforming to gender expectations should not fall on transgender youth but rather on society as a whole to create a more inclusive and accepting environment. While it may seem easier at the moment to ask a transgender child to suppress their identity, the long-term effects on their mental health and self-esteem can be significant.

Dealing With the Anxiety

Dealing with your transgender child’s anxiety in the airport can be a tough situation for both the child and the parent. Approach this situation with empathy, understanding, and a caring attitude, because your kiddo’s anxiety may also cause you stress. To help manage the anxiety, it’s helpful to take the time to listen to your child’s feelings and concerns and to provide a calm and supportive environment. By researching the airport’s policies and procedures ahead of time, you can help your child feel more prepared and reduce anxiety. Talk through how the day will unfold ahead of time and create some plans for hiccups along the way. With a loving and understanding approach, you can help your transgender child navigate the airport with confidence and ease.

To recap, choose a safe destination, plan ahead, give yourself extra time and support and affirm your transgender child’s gender identity, especially when traveling, in order to ensure that they feel safe and comfortable being themselves. Then, enjoy a relaxing holiday and make wonderful memories!

Download the ebook Defining Transgender here to stay in touch through my newsletter, and don’t forget to grab your copy of Beyond Pronouns: The Essential Guide for Parents of Trans Children. 

The Costs of Upholding Transphobic Beliefs

The Costs of Upholding Transphobic Beliefs

Whether we realize it or not, many of us uphold transphobic beliefs. I freely admit that when my son came out as transgender more than six years ago, much of my fear was rooted in not understanding gender diversity and seeing it as “different.” Our unconscious bias often comes out in small ways, known as microaggressions. Because they seem small, microaggressions are often harder to identify, address, and then change or reform. In this instance, size does matter. Harm is harm, even when it’s a thousand papercuts. What are the costs of these transphobic beliefs, these false narratives about the trans community? Let’s break them down into personal costs and professional costs.

Personal Costs

Inflicting Emotional Harm

I think it’s safe to say that most people don’t go about their day looking to inflict psychological and emotional distress on others. You may say, “I don’t discriminate or use awful slurs!” That’s great. But are you actively working to remove your unconscious bias and address the microaggressions that can slip into our everyday lives? Do you nod your head when pundits declare drag as inappropriate for children? Have you ever said that children shouldn’t be allowed to choose their gender in case it’s just a phase or they’re seeking attention? Those are a few of the false narratives that are hurtful and offensive. They perpetuate the discrimination your trans friends, family, and colleagues are facing on a daily basis and cause emotional harm, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more.

Strained Relationships

Even if you don’t know anyone personally who is part of the trans community, you probably know their allies, families or friends. Your community notices the jokes you laugh at, the memes you share, and the discourse you’re a part of—they also notice your silence. It’s hard for allies to maintain relationships with people who uphold transphobic beliefs because they are committed to promoting equality and social justice. Allies will gradually or abruptly cut ties with people who are diametrically opposed to supporting their trans friends and family. When it comes down to needing to choose between friendships, allies will make the healthiest choice, and a relationship with someone who is upholding transphobic beliefs is decidedly unhealthy.

Limiting Personal Growth

I get it. The temptation to stay in our little bubbles in life can be very strong. And it can seem much safer. However, when you resist growth and stay within your comfort zone, you may miss out on new opportunities to learn, develop new skills, and achieve your goals. Not to mention the wonderful new people you get to meet. By failing to challenge yourself, you may feel stagnant or stuck in your personal and professional life, which can lead to a lack of motivation, decreased self-confidence, and even depression. None of that sounds very appealing!

Professional Costs

Reputation Damage

Transphobia is just not tolerated by many people today. If you express transphobic views or engage in transphobic behaviour, it can result in negative publicity, backlash from customers or clients, and damage to your reputation. This can lead to lost business and difficulty attracting new clients or customers. Also, being known as tolerant of discrimination in your workplace can make it challenging for you to recruit and retain top-talent employees who value inclusion because many other companies are embracing gender non-conforming and non-binary employees and customers. Employees and customers are less willing to tolerate silence and avoidance of taking a stand to defend gender diversity, and they are unafraid to communicate their displeasure.

Legal and Financial Consequences

Trans rights are human rights. So, any company or professional who perpetuates discrimination or harassment toward anyone in the trans community might face legal and financial consequences. This could include lawsuits, fines, damage to brand reputation, and more. Corporations, both large and small, have workplace policies that include anti-discrimination, and they are usually very clear. The recent report of J.K. Rowling’s 74% drop in profits, thanks to her intolerance of transgender women, is a great example of the financial consequences of spewing transphobia.

Limited Opportunities

As more and more companies prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I), there are limited professional spaces for people who uphold false narratives about the trans community. When workplaces and businesses are welcoming for all, there is less room for discrimination and discriminatory practices, and those who uphold false beliefs will find it more difficult to find professional opportunities.

Upholding transphobic narratives and false beliefs about any marginalized community is no longer the popular refrain, regardless of how loud the bigoted minority might be at the moment. We need to recognize the personal and professional risks of upholding those narratives. It is far easier and more rewarding to strive for curiosity, understanding and empathy toward all people, regardless of their gender identity and expression.

Download the ebook Defining Transgender here to stay in touch through my newsletter, and don’t forget to grab your copy of Beyond Pronouns: The Essential Guide for Parents of Trans Children. 

 

Minority Stress as The Parent of a Trans Child

Minority Stress as The Parent of a Trans Child

I wonder how many of us can say we just woke up one morning as a minority. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of minority groups is race (thanks to white privilege); people are born with their skin color. Disabilities can come on quite suddenly and affect someone for the rest of their lives, but again thanks to my privilege, I never considered their perspectives. That was until I experienced my own minority stress.

Yes, me, the white, cisgender, hetero-presenting, able-bodied, neurotypical, middle-class, educated woman. Discrimination was a cold bucket of water on my face. I can only imagine the reality of being BIPOC, disabled or transgender.

My discrimination wake-up call

Initially, the stress showed up in little moments. For example, letting the receptionist at the dentist’s office know to use a new name and pronoun and not knowing if I would be met with an eye roll or more questions than I had answers for at the time. These tiny drops of stress could be managed individually, but I soon realized they added up as I went about life in our small conservative city.

Then I was hit with a much bigger wave of anxiety. I was brand new to volunteering for our local Pride association and put my hand up to attend a workshop on grant applications for local non-profits. Seeing as I knew nothing about the topic, I looked forward to the evening. Armed with my notebook and a new pen, I walked into a room with a dozen tables and small groups forming at each one. My friend from Pride joined, and we sat near the front of the room. Once the class started, the leader asked us to go around and introduce ourselves and what organization we represented. As I watched the other groups speak, I noticed a trend, many older people seemingly volunteering in their retirement years. We were the youngest and the only ones with a progressive organization. This would be the first time I said out loud to a group of strangers that I was with the queer community. Despite my decades of experience with public speaking, my heart raced, and my mouth went dry.

What is Minority Stress?

Minority stress refers to the additional stress experienced by individuals who belong to a minority group, such as a racial or sexual minority. This stress can come from various sources, including discrimination, prejudice, and social inequality. Studies have shown that minority stress can negatively affect mental and physical health, increasing the risk of certain health conditions.

Can a white woman face discrimination?

Yes, an otherwise privileged person can experience minority stress when raising a transgender child. I have lived it first-hand. Even if someone is privileged in other ways, such as being white, cisgender, and economically stable, they may still face hateful comments and targeted discrimination based on their child’s gender identity or expression.

Why we need to Talk About This

Our children will also face minority stress just as we do as parents. But, of course, we try our best to shield our kids—which is why I did most of the coming out in professional settings before introducing my child. So it’s important to know what we’re dealing with and how to bounce back ourselves and how to support our children. Minority stress can have a range of negative effects, such as an increased risk of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD, substance abuse and addiction, suicide and suicide ideation, cardiovascular disease and other physical health problems, developing chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and of poor sleep quality, which can lead to poor physical and mental health outcomes.

That’s not a very rosy picture now, is it?

What parents can do

It’s essential to seek professional help if you or someone you know is experiencing trauma or mental or physical illness symptoms. A mental health professional can help you understand your symptoms and develop a plan for coping and healing. It’s also important to seek out a provider who is sensitive and knowledgeable about the specific needs of transgender individuals and families and willing to work with you to ensure that you receive appropriate and affirming care. And, though I might sound like a broken record on this, practice self-care. This is our lives now, and we need to train for a marathon of advocacy, not only a sprint. There is still a lot of work ahead, so find a way to manage your stress long-term.

What can allies do

Recognize that others might be fighting a battle you cannot see. Take the time to educate yourself about the challenges faced by Transgender people and their affirming families. Listen to their stories and experiences and offer support. This can include providing emotional support, helping them to access resources and services, and advocating for their needs. Challenge your own biases by actively working to become more aware of how your actions and words may contribute to minority stress experienced by gender-diverse people and their families. And finally, stand up for trans rights and help to create a safe and inclusive environment, including policy change at the local, state/provincial, and national levels. By definition, minority groups are too small to make sweeping electoral changes—they need allies to fight for their rights.

In the end, if you have ever felt anxiety or stress around raising a transgender child, you are not alone, and your feelings are entirely valid. Seek support and practice self-care. You want to be your best self as you support your child on this unique and rewarding journey.

Download the ebook Defining Transgender here to stay in touch through my newsletter and don’t forget to grab your copy of Beyond Pronouns: The Essential Guide for Parents of Trans Children.