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Is the workplace more trans-inclusive than society?

In the wider world the transgender community is not still experiencing enough support and inclusion and there is a new surge in rhetoric, harassment and discrimination, and a huge wedge between gender and sex, where gender is still seen as simply a lifestyle choice.

However, there are some incredible places to work which allow trans people to feel safe, to use their talents and skills, and have opportunities.

These organisations have a zero-tolerance policy of transphobic comments, have guidelines in place, are committed to diversity and education, and are supportive of trans colleagues

In fact, the workplace may be better than society at large, but there are still talented trans people who struggle to find a job or who are denied promotions and discriminated against. It is very variable.

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Some organisations are brilliant in some departments but then other divisions just across the hall still lack inclusion. It simply comes down to the people you work with and the culture of the team.  

Also, diversity and inclusion (D&I) is often not high on the agenda of small businesses so there is likely to be little trans representation, no HR department, and they may not have the training, guidelines or awareness.

There is inherently more support in bigger organisations so trans people feel safer in larger businesses.

Something I notice when speaking at a global event is that it is often the same sort of people in the room each time, which is the same with any D&I issue.

The feeling is always very positive, affirmative and appreciative from the people in the room, but we are not talking to everyone that way and we are not reaching the ones who actually need increased awareness, which is why it is often helpful to come into an organisation and talk to everyone from top to bottom.

Living in such a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world, people also don’t see trans awareness and support as their issue, or a top priority. But with all this noise going on in the world, trans people feel more anxious, concerned and under pressure so we really need to support mental health and stop discrimination and keep the pressure on to challenge inequality and discrimination.   

Trans people still need to be high on the HR radar even if the right policies are in place.

There is still a lot of work to be done in recruitment, support for those transitioning at work and training colleagues; HR still really need to keep their finger on the pulse to support trans people.

We can easily fall into the trap of being in a D&I echo chamber whereby we think that everybody knows what we know and everyone is on board. We need to continually paint the bridge. The job isn’t done. 

Allyship, mental health programmes, communicating and advocating need to be constantly reviewed to see what is working and what isn’t, especially with staff turnover the way it currently is. 

When the tide is turning the wrong way or simply slowing, companies need to make a public stand, listen to the staff and networks and go back to the drawing board.


Joanne Lockwood is founder and CEO of SEE Change Happen, and a D&I Specialist who promotes transgender awareness to organisations