Client collaboration to achieve gender inclusivity

More funds are making greater efforts to be gender-inclusive, introducing changes like paid parental leave for both parents, better job descriptions and fairer compensation practices. However, there is now a shift towards gender neutrality.

Gender neutrality is the use of everyday language, terms and titles that allows room for the identity of individuals who do not exclusively identify as either male or female, such as non-binary.

Gender on the agenda

Funds and their providers want to implement more inclusive approaches for members that will support the industry’s diversity and gender equality objectives. Many employers, who have partnered with funds already, offer gender-neutral identifiers which need to be maintained through the SuperStream data pipeline and upheld as part of their account and reporting information.

A few clients approached Link Group for a way to manage this, presenting us with a meaningful opportunity to bring funds together and collaborate on a joint solution to meet all member needs.

Workshopping a solution together

Earlier this year, we held a session with selected client representatives and our CX and Enablement teams. Over two hours, we took attendees through a guided Design Thinking framework workshop that included:

  1. Customer identification – To discuss our customer's gender identities (Male, Female, Non-Binary)
  2. Empathy mapping – To understand what each customer says, thinks, does, needs and feels
  3. Customer journey mapping – To examine customer pathways to understand when gender identification arises
  4. Opportunity realisation – To determine opportunities voted as priorities for exploration

Feedback from clients suggested most found the workshops productive and very insightful, with others looking forward to seeing the outcomes.

Since then, the team has worked through an in-depth impact assessment incorporating further client feedback to arrive at a high-level solution. This assessment examined what potential systems and teams might be affected when implementing a solution. For instance:

  • Data connectedness between platforms and product solutions, including Member Online, Member Centre to third parties like employer payroll systems and how it translates to member communications such as annual statements and standard letters
  • Insurance rates are affected because they are often set to binary male or female for life expectancy estimations
  • ATO (Australian Tax Office) reporting where gender must be mapped to the ATO acceptable genders

The future solution

Link Group collated and reviewed the outcomes from our collaborative sessions and determined that a stepped approach to implementing gender-neutral solutions will improve the member experience for fund interactions. Depending on the applications used by funds, we can tailor the solution to suit client needs.

The components of the change are:

  1. Introducing Mx as an available title in our core registry, ensuring gender-neutral records supplied via employer payroll files are accepted and mapped to the ‘unknown’ gender.
  2. Ensuring member-facing websites display an appropriate gender term for gender-neutral members.
  3. Staff to record members as gender neutral via our vulnerable member field. If a member is recorded as gender neutral in this field, a note will be visible to front line staff so they can address members sensitively and appropriately.
  4. Training teams to support these conversations with members

If you’re interested in adopting a gender-neutral solution for your members, please contact your Client Partnership Manager to find out more.