On April 29th, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) introduced new workplace bias protections relating to pronouns, bathroom use for transgender employees, and abortion.

In May, ResumeBuilder.com surveyed 878 business leaders to understand their attitudes toward these guidelines and whether or not their company will act in accordance with the new laws.

Key findings:

  • 1 in 6 company leaders say trans employees are barred from bathrooms consistent with their gender identity
  • 15% of business leaders say they are not personally willing to use they/them pronouns; 10% aren’t willing to use trans employees’ preferred pronouns
  • 1 in 5 say that they would discriminate against employees who’ve had an abortion

1 in 6 Companies Prohibit Trans Employees From Using Bathroom Consistent with Their Gender Identity

Despite new protections, many companies nonetheless bar trans employees from using the bathroom consistent with their gender identity.

Overall, 16% of companies say that transgender employees cannot use the bathroom aligned with their gender identity, while 30% say they can use unisex bathrooms. Conversely, 54% say that they can use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity.

Personally, 24% of business leaders don’t believe that transgender employees should be able to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity. In comparison, 24% think they should be given access to unisex bathrooms. More than half (52%) say that they can use the bathroom aligned with their gender identity.

The reasons business leaders don’t personally believe transgender employees should have access to the bathroom consistent with their gender identity include thinking bathrooms exclusively for biological women are important for safety (65%), gender is biological, and bathroom use should reflect this (46%), and it would cause confusion in the workplace (42%).

Additionally, business leaders worry that free bathroom access could offend other employees (34%). Others cite religious (27%) or political beliefs (14%).

Business leaders with conservative political views were more likely to say transgender employees shouldn’t be allowed to use bathrooms than those who have liberal political views (35% vs. 21%, respectively).

“New workplace protections will change some behavior because they will be added to company training, regarding discrimination,” says Resume Builder’s Resume and Career Strategist Julia Toothacre. “However, personal bias and opinion will keep some people from abiding by the protections, similar to what we have seen with age, gender, ethnicity, and so on.”

1 in 10 Business Leaders are Not Willing to Use Employees’ Preferred Pronouns

When an employee’s pronouns differ from sex assigned at birth, some business leaders refuse to use their preferred pronouns. Specifically, 11% of business leaders say that they aren’t willing to use a employees’ preferred pronouns, while 80% say that they are willing to do so, and 9% are unsure.

Reasons offered by those who are not willing include they do not believe you can choose your own pronouns (64%), it’s too confusing (40%), religious beliefs (33%), and it’s too difficult to remember to use the correct pronouns (22%).

Conservative business leaders are far more likely than those who identify as liberal to say they will not use an employee’s preferred pronouns if they differ from their gender assigned at birth (22% vs. 2% respectively).

“Workplace guidelines are there to help set a standard across organizations for behavior. When there are clear expectations, it allows human resources and managers to hold people accountable to treating everyone with the same level of respect,” explains Toothacre. “These evolving guidelines will hopefully help those in the trans community feel more comfortable at work but also be more comfortable reporting discriminatory behavior.”

1 in 7 business leaders aren’t willing to use they/them pronouns in the workplace

Many business leaders are not open to using of non-binary pronouns – even with new EEOC guidelines. Among those surveyed, 15% say that they are not willing to use they/them pronouns, while 78% report that they are willing to do so, and 6% say they aren’t. An additional 6% are unsure.

Business leaders report a variety of reasons for not being willing to use they/them pronouns, including not believing in pronouns other than “he” and “she” (66%), it being confusing (41%), religious beliefs (26%), and having difficulty remembering to use the correct pronouns (18%).

A much higher percentage of conservative business leaders are unwilling to use they/them pronouns compared to liberal business leaders (25% vs. 5% respectively).

1 in 5 Business Leaders Say They Would Discriminate Against Employees Who Had an Abortion

Despite EEOC protections for employees who’ve had an abortion, business leaders still report that they would discriminate against these individuals.

Eighteen percent say that they would definitely (10%) or probably (8%) discriminate against employees who had an abortion, while 78% definitely (66%) or probably (12%) would not, and 5% are unsure.

Business leaders report that they would discriminate because of moral (68%), personal (60%), and political beliefs (51%).

Discrimination would come in the form of changes to assignments given/workload (69%), harassment (31%), or termination (29%). Additionally, 26% say that they would withhold a promotion, and 13% say they would not give a raise.

Not getting an abortion may lead to discrimination by some business leaders

Title VII similarly prohibits adverse employment actions against an employee based on her decision not to have an abortion. Nevertheless, some business leaders say that they would discriminate against pregnant employees who choose not to get an abortion.

Of those surveyed, 14% say that they would definitely (9%) or probably (5%) discriminate against pregnant employees not planning to get an abortion, while 84% definitely (76%) or probably (8%) would not. Two percent are unsure.

Business leaders who would discriminate say they would change assignments given or workload (62%), fire workers (36%), and harass workers(36%). Some say they would withhold a promotion (24%) or a raise (19%).

“People might discriminate against pregnant employees not planning to get an abortion because they know that person will need time off and a plan in place to manage their workload,” says Toothacre. “As the data shows, changing assignments and workload was one of the top reasons for discrimination. I can see where some employers or managers might alter workloads to accommodate their absence, which would be in violation of their protections. People tend to make assumptions about what pregnant employees can and can’t handle instead of asking them what their plan is.”

“Overall, culture in the workplace is informed by the behavior of the people who work there,” explains Toothacre. “Theoretically, these guidelines will help improve inclusivity in the culture of an organization, but it will all depend on how behavior is managed.”


This survey was commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish. It was launched on May 1, 2024. Overall, 878 business leaders (Owner / Partner, President/CEO/Chairperson, C-Level executive, CFO, CTO, Senior Management, or Director) completed the survey.

To qualify for the survey, all participants had to be over 25, make over $75k, work for a company with more than 11 employees, and have an education level above high school.

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