SaaS company adds gender-neutral pronouns to HR platform

New employees will be able to choose the gender identity and personal pronouns to specify how they want to be addressed by co-workers.

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Companies using Hibob's human resources platform will be ready for International Pronouns Day in October, thanks to a new personal pronoun feature. The software-as-a-service company has launched a new feature that allows individuals to select their personal pronouns on bob, the company's HR platform. Instead of choosing between he/him and she/her, employees also will be able to select gender-neutral pronouns they/them, sie, hir, zie, or zirself. 

Ali Fazal, senior director at Hibob, said the change was motivated by a desire to be more inclusive.

"These new features on bob--including the non-binary gender identity feature and preferred pronoun features--allow companies to give their workers power over how they are addressed and identified by their coworkers," he said.

The pronoun feature appears during the onboarding processes. When a person is filling out new hire forms, the individual will have the opportunity to choose their gender and pronoun of choice. The HR department can customize the list of genders and pronouns beyond the standard. 

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From there, each person's preferred pronoun will appear on their bob profile so that others in the organization know how that person wants to be addressed. Individuals can choose non-binary gender and pronoun categories when sharing information about partners or children as well.

In addition to selling a software-as-a-service HR platform, Hibob provides consulting services to clients. The Hibob team wrote a guide to help HR leaders roll out this new pronoun feature.  

Fazal said members of the leadership team, such as the company founder, head of HR, or chief people officer should introduce the initiative to the team. 

"It is important for managers and company leaders to talk about the steps they are taking to creating the best culture possible, and inclusivity is a large part of that shift," he said.

Some people include their preferred pronouns in Twitter profiles and in email signatures to normalize the idea of selecting your own pronouns. International Pronouns Day began in 2018 and takes place on the third Wednesday of October each year. 

Nonbinary refers to people who experience their gender identity outside the categories of male and female. For example, Lianna Newman, a senior consultant and full stack developer at Booz Allen Hamilton and the DC chapter head for Out in Tech, identifies as nonbinary and does not use a pronoun, but prefers to be referred to as "Lianna" instead of she/him/they.

Transgender and nonbinary people often face discrimination at work. Revising traditional HR forms is a way to reflect a broader scope of identity.

Cultivating an inclusive culture

In addition to traditional components such as time and attendance, payroll, and performance modules, Hibob's HR platform has features to help companies cultivate a diverse and inclusive culture, including clubs and hobbies. Fazal said that knowing what activities employees like helps HR leaders and managers make choices for team activities that meet the needs of the whole team, rather than just the majority.

"When looking at team members' hobbies or interests through bob, managers can see how each activity appeals to every gender--not just males or females," Fazal said. "With this data, managers can make decisions for culture activities that help all members feel included, rather than choosing activities that may appeal to some while making others uncomfortable."

The Club View tool enables employees to join together through shared interests and helps managers, employees, and HR leaders understand and nurture the existing culture in a business. 

"It also allows new hires to immediately immerse themselves into the day-to-day operations of the organization by being given the chance to forge bonds and socialize with their colleagues at the outset," Fazal said.

The bob platform is available in English with plans for French and German options later this year.

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A rainbow frame with portraits of young people, wearing sweaters with their gender pronouns - she, he, them

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