By: Helios on February 9th, 2015

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Review Your Culture: Is it Welcoming Towards Transgender Employees?

Diversity & Inclusion | Best Practices | Employee Relations

What does it mean to be an inclusive workplace environment? Employees vary greatly in every organization. When making a decision to hire an individual based on whether they “fit” into the culture many companies view an individual’s personality, attitude and whether they are able to be trained to excel in the position or if they are currently equipped to handle the responsibilities immediately. Many employers probably never think about how to integrate a transgender employee into the organization’s environment or how well the organization succeeds or fails can be life-altering for all involved.

Is your organization prepared to treat transgender employees equally? Transgender people still face a substantial degree of harassment, bullying and exclusion in the workplace. And, even if the team is inclusive, your policies might not be. For instance, many employers don't offer health benefits that support gender-affirming treatments.  

Does your organization offer sensitivity training? If not, this is certainly the time to begin. Many transgender men and women fear for their safety and believe they will begin to have employment concerns, if they were voice or express who they are.

Here are a few things that organizations must remember when transgender employees are in their workforce:

  1. Confidentiality is of the upmost importance – The employee’s information should not be a topic of discussion or gossip. It is important to ensure management understands the sensitivity of the matter and respects the employee’s privacy.
  2. Adhere to the organization’s dress code policy – The dress code policy that reflects the gender in which the transgender identifies is the policy in which the individual should adhere to and the policy or requirement cannot be altered based on the gender of birth.
  3. Consistently use the employee’s correct name and pronoun – If the employee is being identified as a male. The employee should be referred to by name and the correct pronoun. Repeated references of the non-preferred gender, could undermine the treatment the employee is receiving. Treatment is an enormous part of the medical process to ensure a gender change is what is truly desired.
  4. Gender identity restroom – Each transgender man and woman has the right to use the restroom or locker rooms of the identifying gender. They should not be made to walk a long distance to another facility or asked to use an unsanitary room.

In order to ensure transgender employees feel included within the work environment, it will take everyone to be more sensitive to their life change and treat them as though they would any other individual.