Transgender employees can have a difficult time at work, especially in comparison to cisgender employees. Transitioning at work, managing gender identity and dealing with discrimination are all common issues dealt with by this group. Due to this context, it is vital that employers know how to support transgender employees in the workplace.
In this blog, we are going to discuss five key ways in which employers can support their transgender employees.
The Situation for Transgender Employees
Transgender employees face a high frequency of discrimination in the workplace and often have to deal with difficult situations. One recent study found that 65% of transgender employees felt that they had to conceal their gender status or history at work. This is typically due to other members of the staff’s prejudice and bias. Unfortunately, sometimes this forces trans people out of jobs they love and even entire industries they want to work in.
By supporting transgender employees in the workplace, employers can ensure their safety and happiness. Overall, this will increase well-being and productivity in the work environment too; a win-win situation for everyone involved.
5 Ways to Support Transgender Employees in the Workplace
Let’s now look at some actionable steps employers can take to ensure that their transgender employees are supported and accepted in the workplace.
1. Establish Pronoun Visibility Early
Pronoun usage in the workplace is very important for transgender employees. When pronouns are used visibly at work, it makes it easier for trans people to tell other people what gender they identify as and how they would like to be referred to. When pronouns are introduced early in someone’s working life, ideally in the recruiting and hiring stages, then it is far less likely that mistakes and deadnaming will take place.
While not always intentional, pronoun misuse and deadnaming can be very harmful for trans people at work. Particularly so if this is a repeat occurrence. Not being referred to in the way you want can damage self-esteem and general mental well-being. When pronouns are used and used visibly, such as in name badges, email signatures, and bios, it is much easier for trans people to avoid such uncomfortable occurrences.
We have more information and guidance on the use of pronouns at work for you to check out via the link.
2. Be Clear about Discrimination Policies
Unfortunately, you cannot stop all instances of discrimination occurring within your workplace. Even when you create an inclusive atmosphere, actively include diverse members of staff and try your best to make employees feel safe, you are not in control of the actions of others. Unfortunate scenarios of colleague discrimination can and do take place against transgender employees.
The best thing that you can do as an employer is to be clear about what discrimination policies you have in place and how they will be implemented when needed. Be clear that interventions will take place and outline a no-tolerance policy for workplace discrimination. It is best to liaise with an HR team to do this and make sure that everyone is on the same page about what policies exist and how they will be followed.
You can’t totally prevent discrimination from happening, but you can deal with it appropriately and professionally when it does happen.
3. Build an Inclusive Environment
It is important to build an inclusive working environment for all your employees so that they can feel safe and comfortable at work. For transgender employees, this will include things like:
- Encouraging expression of self via removal of strict dress codes or appearance expectations, e.g. hairstyles
- Celebrating diversity with events and social inclusion
- Allowing trans and queer voices to be heard with internal campaigns, talks and groups
- Having a physically accessible workspace with amenities such as gender-neutral toilets, where feasible
- Having rules and protocols around how language is used in the workplace, with an emphasis on speaking inclusively
When transgender employees come to work and feel included by their peers and managers, it is much easier to feel safe and be productive. Without the added stress of exclusion and potential discrimination, transgender employees are free to work to their full potential.
4. Run Awareness and Diversity Training
Some people may not automatically know the best language to use around gender presentations and diversity. As such, this may cause unintentional problems in the workplace. Some colleagues may feel discriminated against because of innocent mistakes by other colleagues. Of course, this is not always the case and discrimination should be dealt with firmly, as discussed above.
To counteract such issues, running awareness and diversity training within the workplace can help all colleagues stay on the same page with how they can best communicate with and treat their transgender peers. Covering topics such as pronouns, identities, and transitions can help everyone treat each other the best way possible.
It is important that this training comes from a trans perspective. Therefore, try and be as inclusive as possible with the actual running of said training.
5. Handle Transition Journeys Appropriately
Undergoing a transition in the workplace can be a very challenging thing to manage. It is important that employers deal with this in a sensitive and appropriate manner. They must be careful not to break any employee’s confidentiality and potentially “out” them before they are ready.
The most successful approach to take is to be in consistent communication with your employees about what they want to happen. Liaising with an HR team again can be very beneficial here. It is key to follow your employee’s lead with names, pronouns, and any kind of announcement.
It’s also a good idea to make sure your employee has all the mental health support they need. Some companies may be able to provide their employees with free counselling support via their insurance. If not, it is a good idea to signpost to GPs, private counselling, and emergency helplines if necessary.
How We Can Help
Knowing how to support transgender employees in the workplace isn’t always easy but it is of utmost importance. If you are an employer who would like to upskill in the areas of inclusion and diversity, you can do so with our support at Aspiring to Include.
We have lots of guides for you to avail of, including how to recruit inclusively, how to monitor EDI figures, what staff training to engage with, and much more. With these guides and resources, you can become a more inclusive employer and reach your full potential with diversity at work.
We also have key tools for you to use such as our inclusive job board where you can post jobs to a diverse pool of candidates. Our directory of diversity-positive employers is made available to potential candidates so they know you value Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in the workplace.
Everyone deserves an inclusive employer. Help us build you up to the right level today.
Feel free to contact us via our website or call us on 0345 872 4501. Alternatively, you can email us at email@example.com.