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Engage allies when building a transgender employee policy

EY’s managing partner for talent, UK & Ireland shares advice on creating a transgender-inclusive culture

It's important to engage allies when building a gender identity policy, according to Maggie Stilwell, EY’s managing partner for talent, UK & Ireland.

“Gender is something that the majority of people are likely to have thought about as being purely a binary of male and female, so it’s really important to challenge that narrow thinking,” Stilwell told HR magazine. “You can help them to understand the rich diversity of gender identities out there, and that it’s OK for someone to express their individual gender identity at work.”

Stilwell explained that where an employee decides to undergo gender transition it's important to understand it is a “journey" that will differ from person to person.

“It is important to recognise that the ‘final destination’ of any transition may not be clear at the offset and that is OK,” she said. “We want to ensure we provide the support individuals need while on their transition journey, wherever it may lead.

“It is important for all our people to be themselves at work,” she explained. “People who want to express their individual gender identities need to see that the firm is openly supportive of them doing so. For example, in the collateral that our newest intake of graduates receive as part of their induction we make the following explicit statement: 'You should dress according to your individual gender identity and expression'.

"This may seem like a small gesture, but for those individuals who identify, for example, as gender fluid or non-binary it shows that right from the get-go we want them to feel comfortable to be their authentic selves in the workplace.”

Stilwell advised businesses to listen to input and feedback from transgender workers. “Taking the time to really understand the issues may take longer than you’d like when you’re eager to put things in place, but will result in your organisation having a much better solution for effectively supporting your trans employees,” she said.