Creating Inclusive Working Environments for Transgender Employees
Creating an environment that is inclusive of transgender and non-binary employees starts before the employee begins their first day with the company or organization. Often, the opportunity to make an impact begins before the interview even starts.
According to a recent study, forty-seven percent of trans people living in Ontario have a university education, however much of this population earns less than fifteen thousand dollars annually. It is estimated that only thirty-nine percent of trans people living in Ontario are employed in full-time positions (Hixon-Vulpe, 2018). Some of the reasons for these discrepancies include discrimination during the hiring process, a trauma in past workplaces, difficulty accessing name changes for certifications and degrees due to cost and not having access to current references due to name changes.
There are numerous ways that companies can ensure that the work environment is inclusive towards transgender and non-binary employees.
An initial way is to ensure that hiring managers are provided with proper and frequent training regarding communication. This can help to avoid incorrect, hurtful, and problematic assumptions. Some of these assumptions could include gendering a person based on the pitch of the person’s voice over the
telephone, automatically assigning a gender title before asking the person how they like to be addressed, and cultural stereotyping based on what the person is wearing to the interview. Challenging these biases can be difficult. It is important to recognize that not only do these stereotypes not support diverse gender identities or expressions but will also limit who applies for positions at the company.
Having clear, concise and easily accessible LGBT inclusion policies and practices in the workplace is beneficial for applicants. According to a recent survey, forty-one percent of respondents said that they research organizations’ policies regarding LGBT inclusion before applying for positions due to experiences in prior workplaces (Hixon-Vulpe, 2018). These policies could include such aspects as bathroom access, neutral dress codes, and pronouns and name usage.
The company’s policies should also ensure clear communication regarding transition, should an employee decide to this route. For example, does the company’s extended health plan cover any portion of gender-affirming procedures? Employees should be asked by their employers what they need during transition as opposed to being “outed” by others without their consent. Having a supportive network in place can add a protective barrier to the employee during this crucial time in their life as often medical teams will inquire about support structures in place in their lives (Thoroughgood, 2020).
Trans Employees should not be expected to provide training. It is not the responsibility of trans employees to train other employees on their lived experiences or to be visible in this way, although trans employees should be given the option to be included in training if they are interested. There are local organizations that provide corporate training; in Calgary, some great locations to consider are Skipping Stone Foundation and Calgary Outlink.
When employees feel accepted as their true selves and connected with their teammates, they can achieve their full potential in the workplace. Many companies are still on the journey to achieving fully inclusive policies for those who do not follow traditional gender norms. By providing these supports, companies can start an exciting corporate legacy but also by becoming a trailblazer in this new area of human resources.
Hixon-Vulpe, J. (2018). Hiring Across All Spectrums: A Report On Broadening Opportunities for LGBTQ2+ Jobseekers. Toronto: Pride At Work Canada. Retrieved from https://prideatwork.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PrideAtWork_2018_Round_FINAL-s.pdf
Thoroughgood, C. N. (2020). Creating A Trans Inclusive Workplace. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from LGBT Rights.