It’s Pride month – let’s change the world

TL:DR – the field for gender in Talent needs more flexibility, to allow us to support fully inclusive organisations in a way which is culturally sensitive. If you think that sounds like a good plan, get yourself to the Talent Ideas site and vote for the suggestion.


Dear Microsoft,

It’s Pride month this month, as evidenced by the number of companies who’ve turned their logos a lovely rainbow-ish hue on LinkedIn. Yours is always slightly rainbow-ish, so I guess you don’t need to do that, but you do do lots of other great things to show support for the LGBT community, like rocking Pride in London every year, and making cool videos (not to mention also making generous donations to Mermaids when they could really use the support). I love that about you, I really do. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside at a time when the rest of the world seems to be going back under a rock in this area. This year you’re asking ‘what actions will you take?’. I reckon you’re asking what we’ll all do to make the world a better place for everyone. Well this is the action I’m taking.

I’m going to ask really nicely now – please can you make your products reflect your corporate image, when it comes to diversity?

Here’s my example, and my real request.

In Talent, as you would expect from an HR system, there is a field for gender. Nobody is disputing that this is a needed field. In the UK, for peculiar historic reasons, and depending on when you were born, the gender that you have on your birth certificate can change the age you’re allowed to take your state pension, and the amount of tax you pay. It’s a bit bizarre, admittedly, but there it is. Therefore Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (our version of the IRS) are particularly interested in the gender you have on your birth certificate – or, thanks to the Gender Recognition Act of 2004, the gender you have on your Gender Recognition Certificate (which also entitles, but doesn’t force you, to apply for a new birth certificate). When they set up your National Insurance record – that thing we pay that gives us the wonderful National Health Service – they attach a gender marker to it, and that doesn’t change unless you send them a GRC. You can change your name, and your title, but as far as HMRC are concerned your gender doesn’t change without a GRC.

Gender drop down listIn Talent, the gender field currently has the following options:


As it’s not a mandatory field you could argue that there’s a fourth option – which is just to leave it blank.

This field is known by the geeks as an ENUM. To the rest of us, that means we can’t change what’s in it. Unlike most of the other drop downs in Talent, you can’t edit the field to add new options, or change the wording.

So. Let me explain why this is unsatisfactory.

As far as HMRC are concerned, you are either male or female, based on your birth certificate or your GRC. In this country right now the concept of your gender being ‘non-specific’ (and let’s not get started on the semantics of that term) doesn’t legally exist.

However – this doesn’t take away the right for people to identify as non-binary – or something different, or to identify as a gender other than the one on their birth certificate without going through the lengthy, bureaucratic, and slightly demeaning process required to obtain a GRC. HMRC don’t really care what gender your employer thinks you are. Plenty of trans people who don’t have GRCs will not have disclosed their trans history to their employers. The world hasn’t ended. It’s ok.

That’s just the UK though. In some countries, like Canada, Australia and India (and I’m reliably informed by Wikipedia, some US states) – there is a legal third option beyond just the M and F boxes.

Right. So what does this mean for Talent?

Please give us the option to edit the gender field, so that enlightened organisations can allow their employees to declare an authentic gender identity (or come as they are and do what they love – sounds familiar, no?). Please also link this field to the country of the legal entity, so that it can be localised and made appropriate for the context in which the organisation is operating, recognising that some governments still have a way to go on this journey, and maintaining compliance with local law.

Yes, we could add a custom field and do the faffing that goes along with it to update the analytics that are looking at gender (except the embedded ones, remember), tweak our integrations to use the custom field instead, etc etc, but why do we need to do that when you could do it for all of us. The Ideas post is here.

You talk the talk. Please help us all walk the walk.

And keep being you – keep leading the way, keep showing some of these governments how it should be done.

Happy Pride month.




Come as you are, do what you love

1 thought on “It’s Pride month – let’s change the world”

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.