How inclusive are your policies? Using Pride Month to take stock

illustration with grid of rainbow coloured heart-shaped glasses

We’re almost at the end of Pride month but being part of Pride is an ‘every day all of the time’ thing. This year we decided to don our rainbow glasses and use the month of June to inspect our internal policies to see where we could improve. If we’re as inclusive as we’d like to be.

We went through things like our policies on parental leave and bereavement. Do they cover all angles of the varying experiences of parenting and partnership for the LQBTQIA+ community?

The policies we focused on updating were Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Shared parental leave policies as well as Ante-Natal, Bereavement and Compassionate leave.

Working with Cornwall Pride, we wanted to make sure that they felt inclusive for people of all sexual orientations, same sex couples as well as non-binary, and trans employees and their partners. There also tends to be a bias towards traditional family structures in the language used in these types of policies and we discussed the content and consulted with members of the LGBTQIA+ community to open up the interpretations of who counts as a dependent, family member or parental figure.

Some terms that we looked closer at:

Maternity leave/pay – to include non-binary and trans people going through pregnancy we added the terms ‘birthing parent’, ‘pregnant person’ and ‘primary parental leave’ to indicate the person taking the larger portion of leave. In some cases it may also be ok to just use the word ‘leave’ without any prefix.

Paternity leave/pay – as with maternity leave, we have expanded the language to include a same sex or non-binary partner using the term ‘supporting parental leave’. The policy also makes it clear that this covers a new parent that may or may not be biologically related to the baby but has full parental responsibility.

Mother – when referring to the person going through pregnancy and giving birth, we also added ‘pregnant person’, ‘birthing parent’ and neutral pronouns.

Father – when referring to the partner supporting the pregnant person, we also added ‘partner’, ‘supporting parent’, neutral pronouns and in some cases just ‘new parent’ or ‘parent’.

Pronouns – where it was possible without making the text confusing, we replaced gendered pronouns like he/him and she/her with neutral they/them.

Woman and Man – in some cases we replaced ‘woman/man’ with ‘person’ and in others it made more sense to add ‘or person’.

Aunt and Uncle – have you heard of the gender neutral alternative word ‘pibling’? Pibling can refer to either an aunt or an uncle and is modelled on sibling, blended with the P from parent.

Inclusive language in policies. Colourful wooden letters on a pink background spelling out We You They.

Inclusive language matters

Outside of language, we also have policies for adoptive parents that includes rights for staff going through surrogacy, for employees undergoing fertility treatment, for shared parental leave, grandparents leave and have started working on a policy confirming the rights and accommodations for staff going through a transitioning process (helpful guidance here).

Making these little tweaks and changes is a small but easy way to be more inclusive and normalise discussions surrounding gender. It’s not a ‘done & dusted fix’ but it shows that you are an ally to trans and non-binary people. That you don’t make assumptions about anyone’s gender. Using gender inclusive language costs nothing and is the smallest way to acknowledge and respect someone’s identity, helping all staff feel included at work. 

Through our B Corp lens, we treat company policies as living documents, to be constantly evolved and improved. The needs will differ depending on the company. Let us know if you have ideas for improvement or best-in-class examples.

Thank you so much for your help and input Cornwall Pride and Jaime Lock. Look forward to future collaboration and skillsharing.


We’ve still got a few tweaks to make but as soon as the updated policies are ready, we’ll pop a link here, so be sure to bookmark. Feel free to copy or use as a starting point for your own business if it’s useful.