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Companies less likely to hire nonbinary job applicants using 'they' pronouns

Companies are less likely to hire nonbinary job applicants using 'they' pronouns

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A new report shows that job candidates who identify as nonbinary get fewer responses than their cisgender peers.

The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) has published a new study showing that putting "they/them" pronouns on your resume can lower your chance of getting hired — an incredibly upsetting, disappointing, and unfortunate finding for LGBTQ+ people seeking employment.

This new report, published on SSRN, is the "first large-scale study focused on investigating hiring discrimination against applicants who disclose pronouns." Taryn Eames, an economics PhD candidate at University of Toronto, submitted 7,970 fictitious resumes in pairs to job postings in 15 occupations across six U.S. cities, encompassing both large corporations and small businesses.

The results revealed that openly nonbinary candidates got a lower response rate than their perceived cisgender peers. Furthermore, disclosing one's pronouns at all lowered their likelihood of receiving a response from employers.

Overall, the report showed that disclosing “they/them” pronouns reduced positive employer response by 5.4 percentage points in comparison to applicants who did not disclose pronouns at all. When compared to presumed cisgender applicants who disclosed “he/him” or “she/her” pronouns, positive employer response fell by 3.7 percentage points.

This means that "an estimated 67 percent of discrimination against applicants disclosing 'they/them' pronouns is due to their nonbinary gender identity."

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While nonbinary applicants saw a lower response rate in all regions, the report noted that "discrimination against LGBT people varies geographically, and that acceptance of transgender identities is partisan." It found that discrimination against candidates using "they/them" pronouns was "approximately double in Republican than in Democratic geographies."

"Pronoun disclosure carries political signals that are communicated regardless of implied gender identity," the report explained, continuing, "It is also possible that some employers view resumes as an inappropriate place to disclose pronouns, view the practice as unprofessional, or infer other information about applicants who list pronouns on their resume (regardless of gender identity)."

While the results are "inconclusive regarding discrimination against presumed cisgender applicants who disclose pronouns," the study concluded that "there is meaningful discrimination against applicants who disclose 'they/them' pronouns during the hiring process." To combat this, Eames said that more research is needed around nonbinary identity in the workplace.

"This motivates additional research which may seek to understand mechanisms and potential mitigating factors," she wrote. "What information is conveyed to employers when applicants disclose pronouns? Does new hiring technology mitigate (or exacerbate) discrimination? How can bias, unconscious or otherwise, be combated?"

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.

Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.