Citizens Advice is facing a backlash from staff for an “ideological instruction” to wear gender pronoun badges.
The national charity, which has had £290 million of taxpayer cash in the last two years, is being relied upon for debt, energy bills and mortgage help during the cost of living crisis.
But it is facing a revolt over skewed priorities, after The Telegraph obtained five transgender policy documents - running to 23 pages - that it has rolled out.
Dame Clare Moriarty, its £170,000-a-year chief executive, told all staff last month that pronouns are “an important way of affirming their gender identity” and “we shouldn’t assume someone’s gender based on their appearance”.
Her internal memo on Citizens Advice’s intranet, seen by The Telegraph, added: “You can help to normalise sharing pronouns by sharing yours. We’ve created some button badges with different pronouns that can be fastened to a lanyard or your clothing.”
The charity has introduced the badges in national offices and via suppliers for regional teams, while its IT team has drawn up instructions on adding pronouns to email signatures.
Ms Moriarty directed all staff nationally to a “pronouns resource” by Citizens Advice Liverpool, which includes “Ze/Zir/Zirs” or “Ey/Em/Eirs” as gender-neutral examples.
The four-page guide says that “the pronouns used to refer to you are an extension of your name” and getting someone’s pronouns wrong is “misgendering”, meaning staff must “thank them for correcting you and let them know it won’t happen again”.
“If you realise you’ve misgendered someone, but haven’t been corrected, you should still correct yourself – they may not have felt comfortable correcting you themselves,” the Citizens Advice guide continues.
Staff are directed to contentious charities including Mermaids and Gendered Intelligence if they are worried about slipping up, and given extensive guidance on transitioning at work.
Staff 'deeply unhappy' about memo
A Citizens Advice benefits adviser, who received the memo, told The Telegraph: “I know many who are deeply unhappy with this kind of ideological instruction, especially at a time of economic crisis for our clients, which is what ought to be the priority for Citizens Advice.”
In another memo this year, the charity explained to staff on why it is a “trans-inclusive service”, saying it is “particularly important to be explicit” about this because of prejudice and harm faced by trans and non-binary communities.
It said that being trans-inclusive means that “as an organisation, we recognise that trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary people are non-binary; we demonstrate this in the way we interact with colleagues and with clients”.
Staff were warned that “we do not accept trans-exclusionary language or behaviour at work”.
This has left gender-critical staff fearing reprisal for believing that trans women are not women, because they were born male. The charity declined to rule this out.
'Pressure from the top'
The Citizens Advice insider said: “The foundation of Citizens Advice is that we are independent and impartial - it’s what you learn at your first training session - but increasingly the organisation is promoting gender ideology as policy in a way that is neither.
“It feels as if there is pressure from the top for volunteers and staff to promote this ideology at all times: to add pronouns to your email, wear pronoun badges and the like. How is that impartial?”
Founded in 1939, the charity employs around 1,000 staff and has 22,000 volunteers, and some of its local branches have spoken of the “devastating” impact of the cost of living crisis. It receives cash from seven UK government departments.
Ms Moriarty said in response to the criticism: “Speaking up for people who face intense disadvantage is part of our charitable purpose. We want to create a service where everyone is comfortable coming to us for help, and a workplace where everyone belongs.”
She said personal opinions are recognised, adding: “We encourage respectful dialogue and ask all staff to be mindful about discussions that affect some people more directly, and more personally, than others.”