The LGBTI label is awarded to organisations striving to establish equal rights for LGBTI individuals in their company. On our journey to this seal of quality, we adapted existing processes and created new ones, had some very interesting conversations and learned a great deal. We were supported in our endeavours by coaches such as Chri Hübscher from trans welcome, a project by the Transgender Network Switzerland (TGNS). After the certification, we sat down with Chri to chat about the LGBTI label, inclusive design and interacting with people from the LGBTI community.
Chri, what does it mean to you when companies are awarded the Swiss LGBTI label?
Chri Hübscher: I think it is great when organisations address LGBTI issues. A label such as this one is a first step in the right direction. If I was looking for a new job, the LGBTI label would leave a positive impression.
But these labels are also a double-edged sword. Organisations first have to meet certain criteria to obtain them. But then as soon as they have the label, many organisations lean back and put their feet up. Companies should not dial back their efforts in this area, because a label alone does not make a company a good fit for LGBTI individuals.
Keep at it, keep up the momentum and bring in different perspectives.Chri Hübscher, trans welcome project
What should companies do instead?
They need to keep at it, keep up the momentum and bring in different perspectives. You could offer workshops on the topic, for example. At trans welcome, we also offer specific workshops for smaller groups. I always notice how these workshops bring new perspectives to the participants. Afterwards, it is up to them to pass that knowledge on within their organisation.
As a UX architect and lecturer in the field of human-centred design, you are experienced in working with digital products. How can we make digital products more inclusive?
Companies and agencies have a huge influence on the design of digital products. For us in the LGBTI community, it is important that we are considered, on several levels, especially if our needs and requirements are different from those of the majority. On the surface of digital products, this is about language or images. We feel that we have been taken into consideration when gender-inclusive language is used in texts and images don’t just depict hetero-normative people. Processes or forms should, for instance, include a neutral form of address. The structure of digital products, the information architecture, also still has room for improvement in many places. For example, online shops for clothing often use “women’s” and “men’s” as categories, even though you could also structure your products based on other criteria.
Where do you see the biggest potential for catching up?
Particularly in processes and forms. An example: When I asked for my name to be changed on an online platform, I received an email with the old form of address and the old name. I was informed in this email that the change was possible “by way of exception”. I was offended by that reply. After all, it suggested that my request was, in fact, too much to ask, and that they were being generous in fulfilling it. It is issues like these where you could make our lives easier, for instance, by making the people who handle these requests more sensitive to the issues involved.
How can you help people become more sensitive to the issues?
Well, you can either offer training sessions or the company can draft a policy and define processes. After all, there are processes for all sorts of things. It is important for employees to have access to documents with relevant information on the context for the policies and processes.
The main thing is to address the issue with an open mind and not have any fixed ideas in your head.Chri Hübscher, trans welcome project
What would you advise people who are looking to address LGBTI issues, for example, at work?
The main thing is to look at the issue with an open mind and not have any fixed ideas in your head. Many people already have their own idea or image of trans or non-binary people. For instance, that someone would wear make-up or dress a certain way.
When you meet someone new, you could tell that person your pronouns and ask for theirs. But you should do that every time, and not just when you suspect you are speaking to a non-binary or trans person.
Is there anything else you would suggest not doing when interacting with people from the LGBTI community?
It is good to show an interest, but you should not treat LGBTI people like a walking dictionary. But it is usually okay to read up on the subject and then ask a question or two. To learn more about interacting with non-binary or trans people, I recommend reading my websites nonbinary.ch and tgns.ch.
Diversity makes us strong. Diversity and inclusion at Unic means for us: we value different perspectives, respect diversity and embrace cooperation and transparency.Unic Culture
About the Interviewee
Chri Hübscher (she/they) has been working in user-centred design for more than 20 years, works as a UX architect and is a lecturer at the University of Basel and University of Applied Sciences of Eastern Switzerland. Chri operates the nonbinary.ch website and is a member of Transgender Network Switzerland. As part of the trans welcome project, Chri holds workshops for organisations and also offers lectures and workshops independently – including on user experience and gender diversity.