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Inclusion In Self-Expression: Inclusive Dress Codes

We all perform at our best when we feel safe, supported, seen, and empowered to be who we truly are. Trust and support help us unleash our creativity, focus our analytical and problem-solving skills, and use our insight to identify innovation and improvement opportunities.

Inclusion must be more than opening the door; it has to be about genuinely embracing diverse people and creating space for them to express and be themselves freely and openly.

The business world can be very conservative and limiting, and we are all constrained by traditions and preconceptions about how business people are "supposed" to look. Much of the business world remains highly binary in gender definitions and expectations defined by legacy binary standards, which often exclude or overlook gender and cultural diversity. Our progress towards inclusion must include decisive efforts to remove these limitations and to expand beyond binary preconceptions.

To provide truly inclusive environments, we must provide safe spaces for Transgender and Non-binary people to self-express as they are in the workplace. Self-expression is far more than fashion; it is a part of expressing identity and embracing and sharing who we are and a critical part of individual identity.

Meaningful inclusion must include the provision of policies that empower gender-diverse people with the support to express their identity in the workplace. Our inclusion policies must provide for gender expression in professional dress and attire in the workplace. We must remove binary dress codes and replace them with flexible regulations that assure that employees can dress and express themselves professionally outside binary gender walls.

Trans and Non-binary gender identities are diverse and unique to each individual. Trans and Non-binary fashion expression is highly individualized and should not be limited by exclusive, limiting, and binary dress codes. Removing binary dress expectations and policies provides a safe space where employees can professionally dress in expressive ways of who they are. Inclusive dress codes are critical to creating environments where employees feel seen, accepted, and invited to contribute their unique qualities and experience to what makes an organization great.

Supporting inclusive fashion in the workplace is just one more step organizations can take to ensure that our inclusion policies genuinely accomplish our goal of empowering our people. But it is far more than that. When we show our people their unique qualities, character and experiences are welcome when we invite them to participate truly. When people feel that they are welcome as they are, they will feel greater ownership and pride in what they do.

As a Non-binary professional, feeling included was never just about opening the door, and it was never just about being able to work in my industry. Inclusion for me was about bringing who I am to the workplace and contributing my unique experience and qualities to the company. It was about being myself and leveraging my training, knowledge, and skills to contribute.

Over time, it was also about having pride in the people I work for and the colleagues I work with as part of an inclusive organization that supports Queer communities. It was about serving clients who shared those priorities, welcomed us as service providers, and stood for those principles in their business practices and policies.

When employees feel they are genuinely welcome and part of the fabric of the culture and community of a business, they will bring their best ideas, brightest inspiration, and strong devotion to the work and the company. That commitment will show in the creativity and innovation they help empower and offer your customers the best services and support possible.

Be the change we need to empower our people. When working on your diversity and inclusion policies, review dress codes to remove binary limitations and provide support for self-expression by gender-diverse employees. Make it part of your company and community culture. Positive change begins with you.

If you have questions about defining gender-inclusive dress codes and inclusion policies, contact your local LGBTQIA+ community and business organizations for help. Many organizations are ready to engage with the business community to help create more inclusive workplaces and policies.

Thank you for reading. Feel free to contact me with questions or comments.

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