Redesigning the recruitment experience for trans and non-binary candidates with Nokia

Job hunting is hard enough. But when you’re trans, the odds are stacked against you.

In the US, transgender workers are twice as likely to be unemployed than cisgender workers, while 44% who are currently working are underemployed. Almost one in five LGBT people (18%) reported being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity while trying to get a job in the last year. 

Here in the UK, 88% of UK employers have no trans-inclusive workplace policy and only 3% of employers have an equality procedure that openly welcomes transgender people to apply for jobs.

So it was especially refreshing to hear that Nokia is looking to redesign the recruitment experience for trans and non-binary candidates. Like any smart employer, they want to be seen as an employer of choice within the trans community, attract applications from qualified trans job seekers, ensure their recruitment processes don’t present barriers to trans applicants, and train managers to appropriately respond to and assess trans candidates.

The amazing Jade Fraser at WE CREATE SPACE delivered a webinar designed to inspire Nokia’s HR team, recruitment leaders and hiring managers, inviting Lightning founder Chris King to talk about their ideas and experiences. In the spirit of openness, here are a few quick wins they shared on the day…

  1. Use gender-neutral language

Make sure your job specs and job titles don’t use gender-specific terms, as this is a surefire way to make non-binary candidates feel ousted from the off. If you absolutely must ask for a title (is it really relevant in 2022?), always include the gender-neutral ‘Mx’ option. And for goodness’ sake, don’t let anyone in your organisation address a candidate as “sir” or “madame” – it’s not only old-school, but potentially offensive.

  1. Encouraging sharing of pronouns

Almost one in six trans people (15%) are still not addressed with their correct name and pronouns at work. So, lead by example. If your team or external recuiter features pronouns on their email signature and includes them in introductions, candidates are far more likely to feel comfortable doing the same. Adding an pronoun section to application forms is also a no-brainer.

  1. Make your dress code inclusive

Almost a third of non-binary people (31%) and one in five trans people (18%) don’t feel able to wear work attire representing their gender expression. It’s time that changed. We wrote about why Virgin Airlines’ move towards a gender-neutral uniform policy is so empowering – it’s time all companies followed suit (excuse the pun).

  1. Invest in unconscious bias training

This should be a must for all staff. Unconscious bias is natural – all of us have it. But until we recognise our own biases, we can’t work towards fixing them. Unconscious bias training helps your team become more aware, which contributes to a more inclusive work culture and – by extension – hiring process.

  1. Promote active allyship

Over a third (35%) of LGBTQ+ people currently looking for work are worried about being discriminated against or harassed at work due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Allay their fears and make your business an appealing place to work by creating and making space for LGBTQ+ support networks within your business.


Aside from being the right thing to do, there’s a strong business case for truly inclusive hiring. With a shocking one in three employers admitting they’re “less likely” to hire a transgender person and nearly half (43%) unsure if they would recruit a transgender candidate, for better or worse the trans community is a promising pool full of untapped talent. 

Of course, quick wins are only a start when it comes to designing a truly inclusive recruitment process. Check out the UK Government’s guidance for employers, or get in touch for one-to-one consulting on inclusive hiring practices.


As an added bonus, here's our Head of Talent, Ciarán Smyth, with his top tip surrounding employers responsibilities to stop searching for unicorns and start investing in real talent:

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Thea Bardot

26th November

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