Gender identity, expression and protections in the workplace
This month, we celebrate in a rainbow of colour as thousands of people of all genders, sexualities, race and faiths come together for Pride. During this time we reflect on how organisations are prioritising their Diversity & Inclusion initiatives.
In many countries, homosexuality is still punishable by death and more than half the world does not have LGBT+ employment protections. And while we’ve made incredible strides in addressing LGBT inequality in the workforce, we still have much work to do in fostering safe spaces for workers who do not identify as a cisgender (a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth), man or woman.
We’ve been socialised to identify gender in binary terms – that is to believe there are only two genders. So, it’s not surprising that workplaces can adopt similar principles. It’s important that organisations are aware of the distinction between sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBT rights charity, Stonewall UK, defines Gender Identity as “a person’s innate sense of their own gender, whether male, female or something else, which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned at birth”; and Sexual Orientation as “a person’s emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction to another person.”
Stonewall UK, says the best employers incorporate non-binary and other gender identities and expressions in their corporate policies and activities. Below are ways an organisation can communicate their commitment to trans inclusion:
- Opportunity for self-identification
When collecting information on candidates’ sexual orientation and gender identity as part of the recruitment process, it is vital that organisations explain the purpose of collecting this information. Organisations should be explicit that this information is treated confidentially to ensure that candidates are comfortable providing their responses. Stonewall UK’s Workplace Equality Index 2016 Staff Feedback Survey revealed trans respondents who were comfortable disclosing their gender identify were 77% more satisfied with their job security, 68% more satisfied with their sense of achievement and 67% more satisfied with the support they received from their manager.
- Workplace gender transition policy
Every transition is different, so the framework should be flexible to an individual’s needs to help eliminate confusion or mismanagement. An organisation’s work policy should ensure the right mechanisms and supports are in place to help staff who intend to transition. Transitioning affects a person’s entire life, so it’s crucial that they feel like they’re in control of the process.
- Inclusive facilities and spaces
Consider consulting with your office management team to create gender-neutral toilet facilities. The introduction of gender-neutral toilets would signal your commitment to your trans colleagues. There is no singular solution, but employers should always commit to allowing employees to use facilities that correspond to the gender they identify with.
- Establish group services for employee inclusion
Forming employee groups and networks is an important part of establishing an inclusive space. Ensuring diverse identities are represented in employee groups allows everyone to come together to bond and advocate for organisational policies. Inviting guest speakers, encouraging participation in LGBT+ events outside of work, and developing allies within the company can also create opportunities for education.
Above all, an inclusive space is a better space, and diversity drives better solutions when we nurture a collective force of unique talents. Love Happens Here – whether at work or at home, and our passion for diversity is to ensure people can feel comfortable being their authentic self.
For more information, please visit:
OUTStanding; a professional network for LGBT+ executives and their allies.
Stonewall UK: a network that campaigns for acceptance without exception for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.