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How can HR be a trans ally?

Safety is one of the biggest challenges currently faced by trans and non-binary employees in the workplace according to Benjamin Cohen, chief executive at LGBT+ news outlet PinkNews.

In the Transphobic Hate Crime Report 2020 from LGBT+ anti-violence charity Galop, three in 10 trans people were found to face discrimination at work.

Over half (55%) of trans workers in Stonewall’s Inclusion at work report also said they had experienced work-based conflict throughout 2020.

One of the consequences of lacking safety is that trans people feel unable to be themselves. Almost two in five (37%) non-binary people aren't ‘out’ at work, and one in four trans people aren't open with colleague about their identity.

“Hiding one’s true self at work poses many psychological and emotional pressures — and simply keeps people from doing their job,” Cohen told HR magazine.

The way people professionals can support trans colleagues he said is through their influence on policy, process and culture.

PinkNews has a transitioning at work policy that provides paid leave for team members undergoing gender affirmation surgery.

“If HR is going to truly show up for trans employees then paid leave for surgery and recovery is one of the best ways to support trans employees to overcome identity challenges in the workplace and in their personal life,” he said.

Sharing pronouns is one of the most common and visible ways that employers have begun showing their solidarity for the trans and non-binary community.

While misgendering a colleague has been shown to have a negative effect on employee mental health, Cohen added it is vital employers acknowledge the challenges trans and non-binary employees face go beyond the use of incorrect pronouns.

“Allies should be aware of the inequalities in healthcare and the lack of legal recognition for gender-diverse people, as well as urgent issues such as violence and homelessness that are faced by the trans community,” he said.

“While pronouns are a great start, so much support is needed in other areas as well.”

To help to normalise the conversation about gender diversity in the workplace, PinkNews launched its first UK Trans Summit this week to give transgender and non-binary people the chance to network and meet role models, and offer education for employers.

One of the workshops held during the week acts as introduction to the issues affecting trans and non-binary staff, including the steps to initiating trans and non-binary inclusion strategies.

As with any inclusivity drive, Cohen added that HR’s real opportunity also lies in how they onboard senior leadership.

“Multinationals and their leadership have the power to inspire cultural, societal and even legal shifts through their inclusion work,” he said.

“As HR is often the link between the employees and leadership to help drive culture change, HR is well-positioned to listen to what the next generation of the workforce value.

“With Generation Z being the most LGBT+ generation ever, and the future leadership, HR and organisations must respond to this wider societal shift and ensure workplaces are inclusive for trans and non-binary team members.”