Gender diversity and respect in the trades.

Brought to you by TradeCareers, Waihanga Ara Rau Workforce Development Council and BCITO Te Pūkenga

“When an organisation encourages its employees to bring their whole selves to work, these employees are more efficient, more productive, and more loyal to the organisation” - Rainbow Tick

Gender diversity is an umbrella term used to cover all kinds of people with different genders/gender identities, including males, females, and many others. If you haven’t come across it in your life before it can sometimes feel a bit intimidating, or like a huge leap from your everyday life. It’s really not and we’re here to help.

We’ve put together a simple guide to up-skill your language and understanding and in turn, help you support your gender-diverse employees feel safe and respected at work.

“I believe the more people that upskill in their rainbow language and education, the more comfortable queer people are going to be thriving in public life. - George Fowler, Gender D&I Advisor - Pride Pledge, He/Him

Let’s talk Pronouns

Everyone has pronouns, they’re not a new thing. You’ve got them, I’ve got them, Dave’s are he/him if you’re interested. They’re what we use instead of calling someone by their name. There are many different sets of pronouns, but the most common ones in Aotearoa New Zealand today are he/him, she/her, and they/them.

So what happens if I get it wrong?

Misgendering is when someone is referred to as the wrong gender or the wrong pronouns are used for someone. It sort of feels like someone keeps calling you Steve but your name is Bob, and not in a fun nickname kind of way. It can make people feel invisible, disrespected and real stink to be misgendered. It can also put people in an unsafe emotional space as sometimes misgendering is used as an attack on trans and nonbinary people.

“When you are misgendered, it feels like a bit of a punch to the gut. You're suddenly knocked out of the version of reality you live in. It sucks when you realise that you are not seen as who you are by the people around you.” - George Fowler, Gender D&I Advisor - Pride Pledge, He/Him

Misgendering happens; even if you’re putting in the work it can slip out. It can be hard to get familiar with pronouns, especially if you’ve grown up thinking ‘they’ only means several people. If you misgender someone, the best thing to do is apologise quickly and correct yourself, like this;

“So Stevie over here is new, she’ll, sorry, they’ll be working with Terry today on the digger.”

You might feel guilty or frustrated, but it’s important you keep things swift. Making a big deal out of a moment of misgendering can be overwhelming for people, and can, in fact, make someone feel like the centre of attention or like they have to comfort you about your mistake. Keep it short, sharp and shiny!

“Just prior to coming out, I had 11 staff and within six months, I was down to two or three. I then came out to people that I was contracting to and received a phone call one day from one of the directors asking me about it. He concluded the discussion by saying it's best if I don't come to the Christmas party.” -Emma Brown, Director of Yellowhammer Services, She/They

Practical tools for getting it right on site.

We wanna make sure that all our staff feel safe and empowered at work. Here are a couple of easy steps you can take:


It’s all about finding the right tool for the job. You wouldn’t use a hacksaw to check levels, so don’t use ‘she’ for your mate who tells you ‘he’.

ASK what a person’s preferred pronouns are or OFFER yours. The conversation in the job interview could look something like this

“Hi there my name’s Dave he/him, I’m the owner and will be taking you through the site today”

This simple approach means the person you are addressing understands they are safe to offer their pronouns and that there is a base understanding and acceptance of that on-site. You could also add;

“Thanks for coming in Zara, before I introduce you to the rest of the team I wanted to check what your preferred pronouns are?

Put your pronouns in your email signature, your LinkedIn Profile, or your company website's ‘meet the team’ pages. Your preference of He/Him, She/Her or They/Them is a good start.

Some people use multiple sets of pronouns. This looks like “they/she” or “he/she/they”, and means that person would like to be referred to as any or all of those pronouns. As a general rule, people put their favourite one first, so try to use that one more.

“What gets me more than people using the incorrect pronouns is people behaving towards me like I'm a woman. I want to be treated like my gender does not exist.” - Zara Makkink, Apprentice Carpenter, They/Them

Practice makes perfect.

It’s ok to not be good at this right away, it’s a shift especially if you’ve known someone for a while and you have to re-learn the new way. Like learning to use any tool in your kit, it’s really good to practise using someone’s pronouns so that you don’t get it wrong when you’re talking to or about them. This is a great website where you can do that, or you can just repeat a couple of sentences till you get used to it. Give it a red hot go!

Keep it Neutral

Use Gender neutral language across the board. In your job ads, contracts, policies, meetings or other company comms, use the word ‘people’ instead of ‘men and women’, or say ‘they’ instead of ‘he/she’.

Calling people over for a hui? Try these inclusive terms;

“Gather round folks”

“Smoko in 10 whānau”

“Alright team let’s take five”

And try not to group your staff by gender (ie. girls over here, boys over there).

Sort out your toilets

Simply an all-gender toilet is one with a door and a bin. Easy done. If you’ve got the capacity for more then offer a male, female and all genders option, that way people can make up their minds on what they feel comfortable using.


You want more? Wanna proper skill up? We got you, here are loads of links and a glossary of terms you can add to your toolbox.

Gender Bias - Assessment Tool

This Gender coding tool enables you to analyse any gender bias within any document you are sending out to employees, potential employees, or suppliers. Simply copy and paste the document text and click 'Analyse'.

Pride Pledge

The Pride Pledge is a values-based commitment that organisations and individuals can take to demonstrate their dedication to the safety, visibility and inclusion of the rainbow members of their community and workforce, both internally and externally. As a company, Pride Pledge works with you 365 days a year. They are not an accreditation service but rather a supporting partner – working consistently with their subscribing organisations to incrementally improve their commitment to diversity. Rainbow inclusion is not a destination, but a continuous journey. The work is never done.

Trans 101:

A great glossary of Trans Words and How to Use Them

Practice with Pronouns

A great website where you can do just that, work through lots of examples and tailor them to your experience or needs. You can simply repeat a couple of sentences till you get used to it or make it fun for yourself!

Rainbow Tick

Is a certification mark for organisations that complete a Diversity & Inclusion assessment process. Rainbow Tick is about accepting and valuing people in the workplace, and embracing the diversity of sexual and gender identities. A supportive work environment that is accepting of peoples’ differences benefits everybody in your organisation.

The Rainbow Salad

We would like to thank and acknowledge the brilliant George Fowler and Pride Pledge for providing one of the best explanations of the LGBTTQIA+ alphabet salad. This is not a definitive or final list of course, as language is an evolving thing, but gee it’s a good start.

L is for lesbian, which refers to women who are sexually, emotionally, and physically attracted to other women. Interesting fact, it's at the start of the Rainbow alphabet because during the AIDS epidemic, Lesbians were often the primary caregivers of their friends. So it’s a note of honour and thanks, which we think is really cool.

G stands for gay, historically, it has been used as an umbrella term to refer to Rainbow communities, however, we don't really do this anymore, because it puts cis men at the forefront of the conversation and they have traditionally had a lot of visibility. Also, not all rainbow communities identify with the word gay. For example, a straight trans woman would not identify as gay. So we don't say gay, gay bar or gay pride anymore, we say Rainbow.


Hot tip: if you are worried about not remembering all the different terms then Rainbow is a really good word to use which is seen as all-inclusive of everyone in the salad / alphabet / rainbow.

B is for bisexual, a person who is attracted to people who are the same as them and different to them. It's not just Men and women, as that’s a bit too gender-binary. Bisexuality comprises the largest group in the rainbow communities, and 9% of all Gen Z. 9% identify as bisexual. That’s 1 in 10 people in New Zealand are Bisexual of some variety. They are also the rainbow group that experiences an enormous amount of discrimination and really bad health and well-being outcomes because bisexuals face discrimination on both sides of the fence. Both from queer communities and straight communities, Their sexuality is often seen as ‘not real’, or ‘just pretending’, a common one is ‘you’re a straight pretending’ or ‘not brave enough to come out as fully gay yet’. It’s really important to know that bisexuality is very real, it’s 100% a queer identity.

T stands for trans or transgender. And being trans means that you do not identify with the sex you were assigned at birth. Trans can cover an enormous, colourful mix of diversity within its Umbrella. Its core definition is ‘not identifying with the sexuality you were assigned at birth’/. So Gender nonconforming people can identify as trans, non-binary people can identify as trans as well as agender and others.

The EXTRA T is for Takatāpui which is a culturally specific gender diversity that belongs to Māori. All of the other letters in the rainbow alphabet; Lesbian, Gay, Transgender etc, are all Western conceptions of sexuality and gender diversity. Takatāpui refers to all types of people from the Rainbow family who also identify as Māori. If someone introduces themselves as Takatāpui, you don't necessarily know what part of the rainbow family they identify with, but you know, they are part of the family.

Q stands for queer. Queer is a reclaimed word meaning it used to have very derogatory connotations, but is now used by a younger generation in a more empowering way, it includes all people and spaces within the Rainbow Community. Queer is the only word you've gotta be a little bit careful about, though. Especially with older people, it requires a little bit of care because a lot of older rainbow people have had really negative associations with this word. For example, a gay man who lived through the 70s and 80s might feel ick about the term as it was used against him.

I is for Intersex. Intersex refers to differences when it comes to sex. They are people born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies. There is a lot of shame and misinformation around intersex people, but it's so common. Experts estimate that up to 1.7 percent of the population are born with intersex traits, that’s about one in a hundred babies.

A stands for asexual. And refers to having little to no sexual attraction period, There's an enormous amount of variation and diversity under that asexual umbrella. And because our society is built on the idea of coupling up, or having a family this group of people can face a whole bunch of discrimination.

The + covers everything else that we know now and that will emerge in the future. Here are some extra terms you might come across in this space.

Non-Binary - Non-binary means that you don't entirely identify with any gender. A common way of phrasing it is that you are in-between, but maybe a better way of visualising it is like outside of. Notably non-binary people will often use the gender-neutral pronouns: they, them and theirs.

GNC stands for gender nonconforming. People who might identify under the trans umbrella, but they might not. In our society and definitely in the trades, we have rigid ideas about what a man is and what a woman is; Who belongs to those social categories, what they do, how they behave, how they look etc. However, gender is something that humans made up! So GNC just lives outside of those rules and expectations in order to be their authentic selves.

cis – a person who is not trans, and identifies with the sex/gender they were assigned at birth

gender – a person’s innate sense of whether they are male, female, both, or neither

genderfluid – a person who sometimes feels like a man and sometimes feels like a woman, or both, or neither

genderqueer – a way of describing someone who rejects binary genders

dysphoria – the feeling that there is a disconnect between who you are and the body that you have and/or your assigned sex at birth

mx – an honourific typically used by nonbinary people (similar to Mr, Mrs, Dr, etc.); pronounced ‘mix’