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Nemo's Triumph at Eurovision 2024: A Catalyst for Gender Equality in Switzerland

A few weeks ago, the non-binary Swiss artist Nemo won the Eurovision contest in Malmö, Sweden. Their win celebrates gender diversity, sends a message for inclusivity and inspires pride in the LGBTQIA+ community. But it also pushes the debate on gender equality at the political and corporate levels in Switzerland and raises hope for advancing gender issues at every level in the country.

Photo of the Swiss non-binary artist Nemo winning the Eurovision Song Contest2024

PHOTO: Alma Bengtsson/EBU

Saturday, 11 May, 24-years-old, Nemo, is crowned winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö. This moment makes history as Nemo is the first non-binary to ever win the contest. Although Eurovision has been a symbol of inclusivity and a safe space for all sexual orientations and genders for many years, 2024 marks a new step for embracing inclusivity. And, Nemo’s victory is a significant moment for non-binary representation in the music industry in Europe. 

Their win, with the song "The Code'' that details their experience with coming to terms with their non-binary identity, resonates deeply with the LGBTQIA+ community in Europe and beyond. In a world where gender diversity is often overlooked or marginalised, Nemo taking centre stage in one of the biggest musical platforms in Europe feels empowering and validating for those communities.

The impact is not limited to the music industry. Nemo’s win pushes the debate for inclusion in Switzerland and raises the hope of advancing gender issues. Among these issues, the position of Switzerland on the creation of an official third-gender has been highly criticised.

As a matter of fact, eighteen months ago, the Swiss government rejected a proposal to create a third-gender or a no-gender option on official records, arguing the binary-gender model was still strongly anchored in Switzerland. 

However, according to a recent study, 6% of the Swiss population identifies as non-binary, transgender or gender-fluid and the LGBTQIA+ community represents 13% of the population. A number that even politicians can’t ignore.

Nemo, themself, uses the media platform around Eurovision to call Switzerland to allow third-gender entries on official documents, becoming a spokesperson for issues of gender equality. The artist said in an interview, “In Switzerland there’s no entry for third gender. And I think that’s absolutely unacceptable”. The media attention Nemo is getting makes the proposal for a third-gender more relevant than ever. And Nemo is urging Beat Jans, Swiss justice’s minister, to act.

Expectations are high that the strong visibility given by Nemo’s win will help advance gender issues and lead to an official recognition of a third-gender.

If this official recognition is a crucial fight, it is not the only challenge non-binary people have to face. While, in cultural spheres, acceptance and diversity are promoted, non-binary and transgender communities face particular discriminations when it comes to employment.

Today in Switzerland, non-binary people suffer disproportionate levels of unemployment, poverty and homelessness compared to cisgender people. This situation is a consequence of gender bias and discrimination in recruitment and career advancement. But, disqualifying skilled people because of their gender or sexual orientation harms society, as it deprives companies of invaluable contribution and talented individuals.

Advancing gender diversity in the workplace means to combat stigma and create opportunities to foster inclusion and reduce discrimination. HR leaders can have a real impact here by creating and promoting a culture of respect, understanding and sensitivity, so everyone feels safe and encouraged regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.

When it comes to advocating for more inclusion and diversity in the workplace, there are two major challenges. First, adapting the recruitment process and then, creating a culture of respect, sensitivity and inclusivity. For these purposes, policies are always a good start. Companies should ensure that there are policies to protect gender expression, like anti-harassment and zero-tolerance discrimination policies. Moreover, they should look at their existing policies and make sure they are inclusive. To begin with, the company can adapt its dress-code to be gender-inclusive and implement an inclusive list of pronouns and gender in administrative systems. Engaging and empowering staff to advocate for diversity with sensitivity training is also a good way to create cultural change. 

All those small steps can be very powerful. Not only will it foster inclusivity for non-binary or transgender, but it will also have a very positive effect on the entire staff, creating a safe and respectful workspace for everyone.

There is still a long way to go for an inclusive and diverse society at every level, but a night like the 11th of May 2024 is a beacon of hope. Eurovision’s final was a celebration of love and diversity, and reminds us of the power of inclusivity. Thank you, Nemo!

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