Using 'they/them' pronouns hurts chances of being hired, study claims

Most nonbinary Americans surveyed said being a nonbinary employee hurts their overall work experience.
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Posted at 10:28 AM, Mar 08, 2023

There are 1.2 million Americans who identify as nonbinary, and according to a new study, they may face a more challenging time getting hired.

According to a Business.com survey, 83% of non-binary Americans say using they or them pronouns in a resume hurts their chances of being hired. Additionally, 51% say that being a nonbinary employee hurts their overall work experience. 

To confirm survey results, Business.com showed two resumes for customer service positions to 850 hiring managers. One set of resumes included they/them pronouns, the others didn’t. 

Business.com concluded that those using they/them pronouns were perceived as being 7% less qualified for a position. Those using these pronouns were also 4% less likely to get an interview. The hypothetical applicants, however, had comparable experience. 

Business.com said it asked these hiring managers about the inclusion of nonbinary pronouns on a resume. 

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“This person seems like a decent fit on paper, though I am not interested in the drama that a person who thinks they are a ‘they/them’ brings with them,” a hiring manager in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry told Business.com. 

The Human Rights Campaign defines someone who is nonbinary as an “adjective describing a person who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman. Nonbinary people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or as falling completely outside these categories. While many also identify as transgender, not all nonbinary people do. Nonbinary can also be used as an umbrella term encompassing identities such as agender, bigender, genderqueer, or gender-fluid.”

The U.S. Census Bureau included sexual orientation data in its 2021 House Pulse Survey. The data indicated that .6% of adults identified as transgender, and 1.7% of American adults neither identified as male or female.