Offering an inclusive workplace for Transgender employees

Thursday February 2, 2017

For most people, gender identity matches their birth sex. For some, this isn’t the case and a person may instead identify themselves with the opposite gender to their birth sex, or in some cases neither gender or both. These are Transgender people.

Today, the UK is committed to ensuring equality for all. Government and society together have helped change attitudes and reduce discriminations against Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual sections of society. But is the same support there for Transgender people? Many argue that there hasn’t been and still, strongly held attitudes against Transgender individuals are left unchallenged. Last week the government published guidance for employers on this issue.

A huge challenge Trans people face are barriers to employment. Regardless of skills or experience, many may find their opportunities limited – even if the employer has the best of intentions. Recruitment and even application processes themselves may serve to block out Trans applicants. Retaining them could be a whole new challenge. Good employers must remain vigilant to bullying, and make sure they’re maintaining an inclusive working environment. To help employers take on and make the most from their Trans employees – and therefore ensure they don’t miss out on a valuable pool of talent – the government has released guidance to help them recruit and retain Trans staff.

The majority of job hunters will attempt to gauge a potential employer’s value from their website. This is their first port of call in getting a feeling for your business and deciding whether or not they want to work for you. Make sure your values are clear, show off your inclusivity maybe by partnering with a Trans charity, or other partnerships that show your values of inclusivity; simply make your business look attractive to all who visit your website.

The recruitment process itself, always a dangerous one to get wrong for fear of employing the wrong person or igniting a discrimination claim, may disadvantage Transgender candidates. In application forms for instance, being asked to select a gender can be tricky – although they may identify with one gender, some may feel they’re misleading the recruiter. In most instances we’d advise employers not to request information regarding an applicant’s gender.

If you employ a Transgender individual, or already employ an individual who becomes Transgender during their time with you, there are things you can do as an employer to support them. From toilet facilities to work socials you will need to consider the employee body as a whole. As mentioned before, remain vigilant of bullying in all guises. Trans employees may purposely be isolated, harassed, verbally or even physically abused. Make sure policies are in place to protect staff from such behaviour, and to promote inclusivity.

Would you place equality high up in your business priorities? Show your commitment, and see how you fare against the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index. It may highlight areas for improvement.

The HR Dept can advise on creating a culture that is inclusive towards minority groups, and help with updating policies to ensure you and your employees have the best protection. Just give us a call.

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