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How HR can create a trans inclusion policy 

More than one in 10 lesbian, gay and bisexual women and trans people do not feel safe at work, DIVA found (April 2023)

Writing a transgender inclusion policy can be a crucial act of support for trans employees, diversity experts have said.

Fewer than 1% of the UK population identified as transgender or non-binary in the 2021 census. But many of those people feel that they have to hide their identity, according to LGBT rights charity Stonewall.

“It's essential that HR and people teams in organisations have trans inclusion policies,” said Bobbi Pickard, CEO of the consultancy, charity and training organisation Trans in the City. Pickard was speaking to HR magazine.

Before creating a trans inclusion policy, HR and senior leaders should understand what trans inclusion means, explained Pickard.

She said: “There are four pillars in every organisation that need to be in alignment when you talk about anything on diversity and inclusion, but especially with trans and non-binary people.

“Those four pillars are: the executive team, the legal team, the HR/EDI/people team and the communications team. All of those need to have an understanding of the definitions that underpin trans and non-binary policies.”

Read more: One in 10 LBQ+ women and trans people feel unsafe at work

HR should look to external consultants and experts on trans inclusion for training on trans inclusion, Pickard added.

"We need to understand at a really basic level some of those really simple definitions that people don't think about but should do.

"If you can get all four of those pillars aligned and understanding and educated and confident, then you'll be able to build more robust trans and non-binary policies that people will very easily be able to explain why they exist, why they're needed and who they affect," said Pickard.

Once training has been implemented, HR should create transitioning guidance, Pickard advised. 

“The most fundamental thing you need as part of a trans non-binary inclusion policy is guidance around transitioning. The checklist that you'll come up with through a transitioning policy will probably flesh out 90% of your wider trans and non-binary persons policy,” she said.

Transition guidance can point to how employees can change their name, how HR will navigate employees’ preferred name being different from that on their legal documents, and where a name change is reflected on HR systems.

Ella Slade, DEI lead at Vodafone UK, told HR magazine that trans inclusion policies should also point to resources for trans and non-binary employees.

Slade advised people leaders to link to gender-affirming healthcare benefits (how an employee finds out about them, how you access them and what's covered) as well as bathroom policies.

The CIPD's guidance on trans inclusion was recently criticised, the Telegraph reported on 3 May, as it suggested that refusing to allow a transgender or non-binary person to use the toilet facilities they felt comfortable in could be discrimination.

Trans inclusion policies can point to gender neutral toilets that might be available, Pickard added.

Pickard also recommended that HR leaders outline the parameters for gender-critical beliefs and discrimination against trans employees in their policy.

She said: “Having gender-critical beliefs is legal in the UK; people are more than entitled to have those beliefs, as long as they're not targeting individuals or lobbying for the removal of rights or freedoms of trans and non-binary people.

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“As part of trans and non-binary policies, it's useful to outline the extent that gender-critical views are able to be aired in your organisation.

“It's useful for trans and non-binary people to know to what extent they can expect an organisation to allow those views to be aired, but it's also incredibly useful for those people that have those beliefs to know, so that they don't inadvertently step over it, and end up in trouble with a code of conduct.”

Trans inclusion policies should also name who trans and non-binary employees can turn to for support.

Slade said: “Any form of trans inclusion should really focus on support, making sure that an actual named person is there to support any trans or non-binary people. Clearly being able to signpost that is really useful.

“At Vodafone, we have a monthly call specifically for our trans and non-binary employees. It is a lovely, supportive space where we chat about what's happening outside of work, day-to-day struggles that folks are facing, and also share positive stories.”

Benefits should also be inclusive of trans and non-binary employees, Slade added, which could help attract diverse talent.

They continued: “I would urge organisations to look at what their coverage is, if they can increase it and if they can offer more. 

“It's actually quite a competitive advantage in the UK, because not all organisations offer this as standard. If you're looking to attract more trans talent, this might be something of interest. 

“Have a look at that alongside other kinds of benefits, like mental health support.”