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Employers and Pronouns: Three is a crowd?

Even though the Supreme Court Decision in Bostock made it illegal to reject a job applicant solely based on “gender identity,” that does not mean employers still don’t take notice.

A recent study found that employers are much more likely to overlook a job seeker if their resume includes the pronouns “they/them.” A survey showed that four in ten hiring managers think that pronouns present an issue for the workplace.

That’s solid confirmation “three is a crowd.”

Think about it. Employers are constantly making value decisions as they parse through resumes. Would a job-seeker listing “they/them” be more likely to have unsettled emotional issues, and perhaps bring a contentiousness in demanding everyone conform to their version of reality? Such contentiousness is a huge risk to workplace culture.

Look at President Biden’s appointee to handle nuclear waste, the non-binary “they/them” Sam Brinton. Brinton immediately made himself the center of attention, rather than the job he was hired to do, and he demanded everyone in his office conform to his lifestyle choices. Brinton was finally fired in December when accusations that he was stealing women’s clothing from airports were accompanied by actual photos of him wearing other women’s clothes. It turns out Brinton is as unstable as the nuclear waste he was disposing.

Why would any employer risk bringing that dynamic into their place of business?

Academics draw a different lesson from these results: companies need to further improve “diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace” and “measure their employees’ sense of belonging.”

But the more obvious conclusion is that employers are protecting their workplace culture because non-binary pronouns are associated with other traits that are disruptive to the workplace—traits that are perfectly legal to weed out.

Work is an agreement between employee and employer. Employees bring value and help companies grow; and employers help build successful careers. This relationship only functions where there is a productive, enjoyable, and cohesive workplace culture.

Employers want talented people who are serious about growing their skills, advancing in their trade, and building their careers. The hiring process allows employers the chance to evaluate candidates. Will they be a good culture fit? Do they really want a job? Will they put in the effort? Do they have the skills? Will they cost an inordinate amount of time managing their effort and outcomes?

Working at a company that seeks to help employers find the right employees, we have often been told by employers that they prefer to be understaffed than to be poorly staffed. Wokeism has made today’s hiring challenges so great that many would rather remain understaffed than try to hire from the pool available to them.

Good business leaders want employees who are able to recognize a shared reality and focus on productivity, rather than extreme self-expression. The “give me extra attention” attitude embodied in “they/them” pronouns destroys a team-centric culture, and it should be a huge red flag for any employer who wants to foster a productive, healthy workplace.

That’s likely why this study found that most “they/them” resumes are being quietly overlooked, despite the EEOC and the US Supreme Court’s directives to do otherwise.

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