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HR has the opportunity to lead on trans and non-binary inclusivity

The last week has been a formative time for equality legislation in the UK, with high profile decisions not receiving as much coverage due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic announcements.

Despite a landmark ruling against Jaguar Land Rover resulting in the classification of non-binary and gender fluidity as protected characteristics under the Equality Act, the UK has scrapped its review of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act which was set to make it easier for trans people to self-identify their gender.

Due to the sluggish nature of legislative change, it is still often employers leading the way when it comes to providing inclusive support for people with different gender identities and sexual orientations, as Stonewall head of global partnership Steve Mercer explained earlier this week.

HR therefore has the opportunity to lead where the law falls down.

Read more on gender identify and the workplace:

Creating a trans- and gender-friendly workplace

There's still much to do on LGBT+ inclusion

Gender pay gap reporting and trans people

Research by Stonewall found 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.

Speaking to HR magazine, Vicky Hayden, global partnership and policy lead at Stonewall, said that there are host of measures people teams can take the first steps toward being more inclusive of trans and non-binary employees.

She said: "One area you can look at is whether you can update your HR systems to offer gender-neutral pronouns like Mx on titles and provide gender-neutral facilities.

"You can also ensure that your policies explicitly reference protection for non-binary people in relation to bullying, harassment and discrimination in the workplace and promote a zero tolerance approach to tackling any discriminatory behaviour."

When it comes to policy and practice, Kate Potts, senior associate at specialist employment law firm GQ|Littler, said that including employees in the process can help smooth the way.

She told HR magazine: "Gender identity remains a sensitive issue, and most workforces will contain a wide range of strongly-held opinions. HR teams should think carefully about making pro-active changes to policies and introducing specific training to ensure working practices are inclusive and employee consultation can help to smooth the way.”

Many of the other steps outlined by Hayden are simple, yet they can make a huge difference in how people feel accepted within their workplaces.

Updating information on company dress codes and making sure facilities are not gendered are some other ways she suggested HR can help, as well as offering staff the option to share their pronouns, for example in their email signature.

She added: "Giving employees a simple way to indicate how they identify, so people can use the right pronouns, helps ensure everyone is accepted and comfortable.

"People work best when they can be themselves, so it’s essential companies show their support for trans equality and take the lead in embedding trans inclusion in their company year-round. This is a vital step towards improving life for trans and non-binary people."