Earlier this week, we noticed new t-shirts for sale, and these tees perfectly illustrate a new best practice in customer service, one that goes against longstanding standards of service: greeting a customer/guest without using gendered terms (such as sir, ma'am, etc).
If one of your well-meaning associates greets a guest with "sir" and the guest doesn't identify as male, that guest has been misgendered. Misgendering is a huge problem and often causes your guests to feel misunderstood and not seen for who they truly are. It creates awkwardness for all parties and often leads to an over-correction which then makes your guests feel even more uncomfortable and misunderstood. And it happens ALL THE TIME, at every company or institution with front line workers, in every industry.
The simple solution is to train your team members to greet without "sir", "ma'am" or any other gendered term. A simple greeting such as, "Good afternoon. How can I help you?" is polite and respectful.
This societal shift towards acceptance of the fluidity of gender is accelerating. Many companies such as Spotify and Tinder are paying attention.
And, in the entertainment industry, the Showtime hit, Billions became the first series to feature a non-binary character played by the non-binary actor, Asia Kate Dillon. When submitting their work in the show to the Emmys for consideration, Asia asked which category to submit to, and the Emmys told them to submit under either "actor" or "actress" category. Since "actor" originated as a non-gendered term, they chose to submit for Best Supporting Actor. Note the use of the singular "they" in this paragraph, which is Asia Kate's preferred pronoun.
How is your company preparing to adapt to society's expansion and increasing acceptance of gender identity?