Jun 2024

Pride Month: Inclusivity in the Workplace

As part of Pride Month, we're sharing stories from previous editions of Gi which address some of the discriminatory issues surrounding the LGBTQ+ community.

In our March 2022 edition of Gas International, we published an article on International Transgender Day of Visibility and how businesses can be more inclusive towards its transgender employees. Read the full article below...

March 31 marks the International Transgender Day of Visibility, an annual event celebrating trans, non-binary and gender diverse people, highlighting their contributions to society and raising awareness of the discrimination faced by trans people worldwide. We report on some of the issues facing trans workers today and what employers can do to create more inclusive and welcoming workplaces.

Trans flag

The International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) is an annual day of recognition, celebrated around the world on March 31, which is dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments and victories of transgender and non-binary people, while simultaneously raising awareness of the work that is still needed to combat discrimination and violence.

The day of recognition was founded in 2009 by US-based transgender activist Rachel Crandall, a licensed psychotherapist and the Executive Director of Transgender Michigan.

TDOV was created both in reaction to the lack of LGBTQ+ days of recognition for the successes achieved by trans people, as well as the frustration that the only well-known transgender-centered day of recognition was the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR).

TDOR mourns the murders of transgender people but doesn’t acknowledge and celebrate living members of the transgender community. TDOV is a much-needed day of empowerment, celebrating the lives and achievements of transgender people worldwide.

The Equalities Office estimates that there are approximately 200,000 to 500,000 trans people in the UK.

However, according to a 2021 YouGov survey of 410 trans employees across the country, more transgender people hide their identity at work now than they did five years ago.

The research, conducted on behalf of Totaljobs found that two-thirds of people surveyed felt they had to hide their trans status at work, compared to just over half of respondents when the same survey was conducted five years earlier.

It also found that a third of respondents had experienced discrimination in the workplace within the last five years, and 43 per cent had quit their jobs because their work environment was unwelcoming.

In addition, a national survey conducted by the Equalities Office found that 67 per cent of trans respondents had avoided being open about their gender identity for fear of a negative reaction from others.

This has ignited calls for employers to proactively develop policies and practices to ensure trans employees are protected and included at work.

The Totaljobs poll also found that more than half of transgender employees surveyed said their employer did not support their trans workforce through training, and only a third said their employer had dedicated anti-trans discrimination policies.

The Equality Act 2010 outlaws discrimination in employment on the grounds of ‘gender assignment’.

As an employer, you’re liable for your behaviour towards your employees and are advised to have anti-harassment and bullying policies in place, along with diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) policies – including a trans-inclusive policy.

Key elements in this policy include bathroom access, dress code and pronoun and name usage. Creating safe spaces – such as network groups for trans employees to meet, discuss problems and escalate them to senior leaders – is a positive step employers can take.

But business leaders need to listen to their trans employees and collaborate with them to create change.

It’s important that all employers show their support for trans equality and take steps to ensure trans people are free to be themselves at work.

Lee Clatworthy, a board trustee at trans charity Sparkle, which collaborated with Totaljobs on the research, said it was vital businesses committed to communicating their values externally as well as internally to publicly signal their support for trans workers.

“Many organisations are doing great DEI work internally, which is obviously important in retaining a diverse workforce that feels valued, but many are not promoting this work outside of the organisation to attract candidates with a variety of backgrounds,” he said.

Clatworthy also recommended employers de-gender the language on application forms and throughout their recruitment processes to ensure their first interaction with potential employees is as inclusive as possible.

Employers should also have a single point of contact who is trained to be sensitive to the barriers that trans and gender-diverse candidates may face, he said.

History of Transgender Day of Visibility

There is no doubt that the transgender community continues to face discrimination worldwide. Be it in the workplace, schools, or society, it has been subjected to immense harassment and inequality in every part of the world for the ‘sin’ of being born different.

Rachel Crandall, a US-based transgender activist, founded this day in 2009 to raise awareness for the incredible burden of discrimination the community faces in every setting imaginable.

The need to bring a day of ‘visibility’ for the transgender community is indicative of the oppression they face in many sectors of life.

Crandall wanted to highlight the fact that the only transgender-centric day that is internationally recognised is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is in mourning of members of the community who had lost their lives, and that there was no day to pay homage to living transgender people.

By 2014, the day was observed by activists in Ireland and Scotland while, in 2015, many transgender people took part in the event by participating in social media campaigns.

They successfully made the day go viral by posting selfies and personal stories.

Therefore, on Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, annually, we recognise and revere their contributions, successes, and relentless resilience in standing tall and strong in the face of injustice.

Through this Day of Visibility, we hope to induce moral responsibility and tolerance, and lift the restrictions on the rights of transgender people.

Transitioning in the workplace: a good practice guide for employers

InterEngineering is a professional network that aims to connect, inform and empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender engineers and their straight allies. It gives the following advice for employees on how to best care for their trans team members:

  • Senior sponsorship: Visible leadership is essential to enable the creation of an accepting, safe and supportive workplace to transition in. This is particularly effective when combined with awareness sessions, ensuring all management and leadership levels are engaged.
  • Run trans awareness sessions: Different awareness sessions should be tailored for specific audiences, i.e., a session aimed at line managers would focus on different aspects to one given to colleagues/a wider audience. Consider running webinars for these sessions to reach a wider audience.
  • Start an employee resource group: This can raise the profile and provide support for trans individuals to the management/company. It also provides an initial point of contact for support to trans individuals.
  • Update your discrimination bullying and harassment policy: The policy should be aligned to explicitly address those with ‘protected characteristics’ under the Equality Act 2010. Although the Act currently only specifically addresses ‘gender reassignment’, it is good practice for any organisation to also address gender identity and gender expression in the same way.
  • Become a Stonewall Diversity Champion: Stonewall has published a guide for developing a transitioning at work policy, as well as a guide on transgender matters. Stonewall is well-placed to advise an organisation on the best steps to take with creating their own policy.
  • Have open conversations with employees about trans matters and issues: In addition to running awareness sessions, by simply having everyday conversations and less formal sessions talking about trans issues, employers can send a strong signal to those considering coming out that the organisation is trans-friendly and inclusive.
  • Auditing and benchmarking: Employers should regularly carry out audits/surveys of where their organisation is with respect to trans awareness and inclusion and where improvements can be made. Sometimes the smallest changes can have the biggest impact. Visit other companies to find out what their policies and standards are like to benchmark against and determine which good practice examples can be copied within your own organisation.

You can read our EDI pledge here.