Tuesday, April 4, 2023

5 tips to help support our trans employees in the workplace

Transgender people are under attack. They often experience discrimination, harassment, and a lack of understanding, including from their work colleagues and bosses. As an employer, it is important to create a safe and inclusive environment for all employees, including those who identify as transgender or gender nonconforming.

Here are five steps you can take in your business to support transgender and gender nonconforming employees at work:

1.) Develop policies that explicitly address transgender employees. This can include guidelines for transitioning on the job, restroom and locker room access, dress codes, and pronouns. It also includes updating your existing EEO and anti-harassment policies to ensure that they include "gender identity" as a protected class. These policies should also include protecting transgender and gender nonconforming employees from discrimination and harassment by customers, vendors, contractors, and other third-party non-employees.

2.) Provide training for all employees on transgender issues, including the policies outlined above. This training should help to increase understanding and reduce discrimination and harassment. Policies and training are only as good as your commitment to hold your employees accountable when they fall short of your expectations. Managers especially must buy in and be held accountable when their team members violate these rules.

3.) Offer benefits that cover gender-affirming healthcare, such as hormone therapy, gender confirmation surgery, specialized mental-health coverage, and equitable parental leave.

4.) Create a culture of respect and inclusivity. This can be achieved through regular communication on these issues, diversity and inclusion and diversity celebrations and initiatives, an LGBTQ+ employee resource group and conversations, conferences, and trainings that specifically address the transgender and gender nonconforming community. Inclusivity starts at the top. If the C-suite acts as outspoken advocates and allies for transgender employees within the workplace, its attitude should filter throughout the organization.

5.) Listen to and support transgender and gender nonconforming employees. If an employee comes out as transgender, it is important to provide support and resources to help them navigate the transition process. This includes allowing them to present as the gender of their choice, use the restroom of their choice, and use the pronouns for their choice, all without fear of retribution, reprisals, or harassment.

All employees must feel physically and psychologically safe at work, regardless of their gender identity. Everyone has a responsibility to create and foster a safe, welcoming, and inclusive workplace. A business may not be able to change the underlying beliefs of its employees, but it can change expectations of employee behavior towards their trans work colleagues.