In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that one in eight trans people has experienced employment discrimination in the last five years, despite it being illegal to discriminate against someone on the grounds of their gender identity.
The Equality Act 2010 protects employees from discrimination on the grounds of protected characteristics, of which gender identity is one. This means that employers cannot refuse to hire a trans person or treat them differently from other employees because of their gender identity.
Your Role As An Employer In Supporting Transgender Rights
As the workplace evolves, so too must our understanding of diversity and inclusion.
In the past, businesses may have been primarily focused on gender and race equality measures, but today we are increasingly aware of the importance of creating an inclusive environment for all employees, regardless of their background or identity.
One group that is often overlooked in this discussion is transgender individuals.
What Does Transgender Mean?
A transgender employee is an employee who identifies as a gender other than the one assigned at birth.
For employers, this means it’s important to create an inclusive environment for all employees, and that includes employees who are transgender.
What Can Businesses Do?
While transgender people have been gaining visibility in recent years, they still face discrimination and exclusion in many workplaces. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that businesses can take to make their workplaces more trans-inclusive.
Making your workplace trans-inclusive not only encourages a diverse workforce but protects you from employment tribunals on the grounds of discrimination, which can be costly and time-consuming for both parties.
Read on for how you can adopt a proactive trans-inclusive and non-discriminatory approach across your business operations.
Supporting Your Trans Workforce
Trans employees can find it hard to speak out to access help when they need it at work but making your workplace trans-inclusive can change this, and it isn’t a process that needs to be complicated or expensive.
Simple ideas that allow you to promote a workplace culture that supports openness and positivity to conversations around identity, changing leadership perceptions, updating policies and introducing staff training, can all add up to create a more inclusive environment for your transgender employees.
Giving trans people the voice they deserve can help you as an employer to manage important HR conversations around absence, performance, health, and working arrangements effectively, without fear of discrimination claims.
Try These Trans-Friendly Workplace Ideas
- Firstly, ensure that your workplace has a clear and inclusive policy on gender identity and make sure that all staff are aware of this policy. You should then create inclusive policies, such as dress code and bathroom use policies that are trans-friendly and those that allow employees to self-identify their name and pronouns.
- You should help employees feel comfortable using their preferred names and pronouns. By encouraging staff to share their pronouns in their email signatures, you can help to give these discussions prominence in your workplace and ensure that your team is taking steps to use the correct pronouns and honorifics for each employee whilst avoiding making assumptions about someone’s gender identity.
- If an employee does disclose their trans status to you, show support and understanding and work with them to ensure that their transition is as smooth as possible. You can support them with reasonable adjustments at work including time off, different working schedules, working from home, etc.
- You can help to create a more inclusive environment by designating at least one gender-neutral toilet or changing room on site. his will not only make transgender employees feel more welcome but it will also be appreciated by non-binary employees and any other employees who may not feel comfortable using gendered bathrooms.
- One of the most important things is to create an inclusive environment from the top down. This means ensuring that management is supportive of trans employees and that all employees are aware of the company’s stance on inclusivity.
- Consider using national events like Pride Month or Transgender awareness week as a time to celebrate your trans staff and educate employees about LGBTQIA+ rights and issues. There are several ways that businesses can support Pride in the workplace, from flying the Pride flag to offering employee resource groups.
- Make use of employer resources to help support your transgender employees. These resources can help employers create policies and procedures that are inclusive of transgender employees, provide training on how to support transgender employees, and connect employers with transgender-friendly healthcare providers.
- An individual undergoing transition (or planning to) may not wish to disclose this information to everyone, but you should encourage them to take regular meetings, either with a direct superior, a human resources representative or both, to discuss any issues that arise throughout the process.
- You should provide diversity training for staff on how to best support trans colleagues.
- Consider setting up a trans lead or spokesperson at your workplace to ensure any decisions that may impact employees are considered with the needs of everyone that will be affected.
Taking steps like these sends a strong message that your company values diversity and inclusion.
Your efforts to create a workplace that is supportive and inclusive for all employees can boost employee morale and retention, signal to potential employees that you are an inclusive and welcoming organisation, and therefore reduces the risk of employment tribunal claims for discrimination arising.
Business owners and their human resources departments play a vital role in ensuring that workplaces are fair and inclusive for all employees.
Talk to your Neathouse contact to ensure that you have the tools, knowledge and procedures that you need to protect against the risk of unfair dismissal or discrimination claims when managing sensitive conversations about transgender rights in the workplace.