Easy steps for HR to create trans-inclusive workplaces
Let me be blunt - in 2021, it is still the case that trans and gender diverse individuals face a significant level of discrimination and marginalisation in both society and the workplace. If we spoke about Black people, disabled people, or a person of faith in the way that trans people are portrayed in the media then there would be public outcry.
For some reason it is still socially acceptable to hold and propagate anti-trans views, not just in private, but also in mainstream media and online. News and TV channels host debates on trans people’s right to exist and go about their day to day lives with dignity and respect.
Fortunately, I am seeing a change in the tide within many corporate and public sector organisations. The LGBTQ+ staff networks are amplifying trans people and ensuring that ally programmes are put in place with training and support for colleagues and team members.
Similarly, these organisations are establishing transition at work policies and support for their trans and non-binary colleagues.
However, the reality is still the fact that, as highlighted in the recent Gallop Poll Hate Crime Report 2020, three in 10 trans people face discrimination at work.
Nancy Kelley, CEO of Stonewall, noted that while 84% of people see themselves as trans neutral or better, that still leaves 16% of the population that are actively trans negative – and these people work for organisations just like yours.
According to Crossland Solicitors’ HR Hub 2018, we need to change the attitude of the one in three employers that stated they were less likely to hire a transgender people - and the 43% saying they were unsure.
The constant debate around changing rooms in clothes shops, policing of toilets in organisations and the constant demonising of trans people as a threat is exhausting, for allies as well, which takes its toll on mental health.
What can you as an organisation do?
Firstly, I believe you should make a positive public statement and own it.
“We are a trans positive organisation and stand shoulder to shoulder with trans, non-binary and gender diverse people as their ally.”
Be proud and visible on your website and social media, ensure senior leaders actively include trans voices into conversations and amplify role models. This is backed up by zero tolerance policies around acceptable language and behaviour to build trust and confidence.
Ensure your HR systems can easily support name changes, gender neutral titles and as much as possible de-gender the everyday language you use in your business to ensure your people feel safe, a sense of belonging and inclusion.
Engage people with trans and non-binary who have lived experience to assist you on your journey and reward them fairly for their contribution.
I would encourage organisations to promote the use of personal gender pronouns on signatures and profiles (he/she/they). If you are nervous or hesitant about this, then challenge yourself as to why? Are you afraid to walk the talk? Is there a reputational risk? Unpack these concerns and be honest and ask for help.
You can’t be a bit inclusive, just like you can't be little bit pregnant - be holistic, active and deliberate about your support for transgender and non-binary people in society and your organisation.
Proudly and unreservedly show your public support and back this up with action. Listen to your people and ensure they feel a sense of safety and belonging in an organisation where they can thrive, not just survive.
We have come a long way, but we still have a lot further to go!
Joanne Lockwood is founder and CEO of SEE Change Happen.
February is LGBT History Month in the UK and throughout HR magazine will be providing expert perspectives on how to support LGBT+ diversity and inclusivity in the workplace.
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