Fostering Equity: A Guide to Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace

Fostering Equity: A Guide to Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace

In today's rapidly evolving world, the fight for equality and inclusion continues to gain momentum. As conversations around gender identity become more prominent, workplaces must recognize and prioritize transgender inclusivity. Creating an inclusive and diverse workplace is not just a moral imperative, but also essential for fostering welcoming and supportive environments that allow individuals of all gender identities, including transgender individuals, to grow. 

However, the reality is that transgender individuals often face detrimental outcomes when expressing their true identities in the workplace, including rejection, discrimination, harassment, and social isolation. While employees are frequently encouraged to bring their authentic selves to work, the transgender experience is often overlooked when organizations develop diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging policies. To achieve genuine progress, it is crucial for workplaces to fully embrace and adapt to the needs of all employees – and real progress cannot be made if those practices exclude those who are transgender.

To gain a better understanding of the landscape and what progress needs to happen, here are some statistics on transgender people in the workplace:

  • Transgender adults are twice as likely as cisgender adults to be unemployed.
  • 22% of transgender adults, and 32% of transgender adults of color, have no form of health coverage.
  • Nearly half (45.5%) of LGBTQIA+ workers in the United States have encountered various forms of unfair treatment during their careers, such as workplace harassment, termination, or discriminatory hiring practices solely based on their LGBTQIA+ status.
  • Transgender workers are more likely to experience discrimination when applying for jobs (43.9%) and verbal harassment at work (43.8%).
  • Transgender adults are twice as likely as cisgender adults to be unemployed. Also, cisgender employees make about 32% more money each year than their transgender colleagues – this is even when those transgender colleagues have similar or higher education levels.
  • More than half of transgender employees in the United States express discomfort in being open about their gender identity at work. They feel less support compared to their cisgender counterparts and feel a lack of support from their managers.

diversity, equity, and inclusion

“There has been a ton of progress in prioritizing corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts over the last several decades, but that hasn’t necessarily translated into actual improvements for the transgender experience in the U.S.,” David Baboolall, one of the authors of the McKinsey report, said to CNBC Make It. 

While gender diversity has been a focal point, it is essential to ensure the inclusion of all gender identities. Including transgender individuals in inclusive culture practices is essential to create a thriving and equitable work environment. 


A Focus on Building a Trans-Inclusive Culture 

A company's reputation as an inclusive employer directly influences its ability to attract diverse candidates. Potential employees seek organizations where they can bring their whole selves to work. Hence, trans inclusion is not only an ethical responsibility, but essential when fostering a truly inclusive environment. This is where recruitment marketing and employer branding play vital roles. 

By prioritizing trans inclusion, organizations communicate a powerful message to job seekers and the wider community. They demonstrate their commitment to fostering an inclusive culture where all employees are respected, valued, and given equal opportunities to succeed. Also, an inclusive workplace that embraces trans individuals bolsters an organization's employer brand. In an era where consumers expect companies to reflect their values, employer branding becomes a critical differentiator. 

When organizations demonstrate a genuine commitment to trans inclusion, they create a positive ripple effect. Word spreads among job seekers and professionals in the industry, positioning the organization as a trailblazer and an employer of choice. Such recognition not only attracts diverse talent, but also strengthens the company's overall brand reputation, market competitiveness, and gives a distinct advantage when it comes to attracting top talent. 

Explore the transformative power of trans inclusion in the workplace:


The Benefits of Building Trans-Inclusive Workplace Practices


1. Growing Diverse Teams

This may seem obvious, but it’s important to note that diverse team members can have a huge impact on team dynamics. Transgender individuals bring unique perspectives, skills, and experiences to the table. By actively recruiting and including trans employees, organizations open themselves up to a wider pool of talent, increasing their chances of finding the best fit for each role. This diversity can lead to greater innovation, creativity, and problem-solving within teams.

By embracing and celebrating differences, organizations foster a sense of unity, collaboration, and respect among team members. This, in turn, enhances communication and overall team performance. When prioritizing trans inclusion, organizations encourage employees to think outside the box and challenge conventional wisdom.

diversity in the workplace


2. Enhanced Employer Brand

A strong employer brand is essential for attracting top talent, and by establishing trans-inclusive workplaces, organizations can cultivate a reputation for being progressive, open-minded, and forward-thinking. When showcasing this inclusive brand, it sends a clear and powerful message to customers and audiences demonstrating the organization's commitment to diversity, inclusion, and creating an environment that welcomes and values all individuals.


3. Increased Employee Engagement

When employees feel accepted and valued for who they are, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and loyal. By promoting trans inclusion, organizations create a sense of belonging and psychological safety among all employees. This fosters a positive work culture where individuals feel comfortable being authentic, leading to higher productivity and lower turnover rates.


How to Create Inclusive Workplaces for Transgender Employees

Promoting a workplace community that values trust and understanding serves as a catalyst for progress and action. Ensuring the safety and authenticity of every employee, without the need to conceal their true selves in fear of violence or harassment, is of utmost importance. When employees feel a sense of comfort, safety, and connection with their coworkers and the organization, they are empowered to unlock their full potential. 

To experience the benefits of fostering a more inclusive company culture and maximize the potential of LGBTQIA+ employees, companies need to do work and reflect on what needs to be done. Here are some things to consider:


1. Review Company Benefits

A great first step for companies is to review their benefits to see where they might fall short of being trans-inclusive. This helps build a roadmap of where the company is and where they’d like to be – and ultimately helps plan which steps are needed to get there. 

Companies should be clear about their benefits up front to candidates and employees. This is especially helpful when a person doesn’t quite know their identity (or is still figuring it out) and wants to know the benefits and resources available to them. This can include a range of items, from healthcare to gender-neutral toilets.

diversity in recruitment marketing


2. Review and Revise Policies

Creating an inclusive and supportive workplace for transgender employees requires organizations to draft a comprehensive policy covering everyone and recognizing diverse experiences. Incorporating non-discrimination measures into policies establishes a safe work environment that enables trans employees to concentrate on their work without fear.

Providing long-term support, including key policy areas such as Bullying & Harassment, Transitioning at Work, and Family Leave, are essential. Having these policies written out ensures trans staff can feel confident knowing the policies in place without having to out themselves to do so.

Tip: It's crucial to integrate non-discrimination measures into policies, have open conversations, and address past harm through proactive policy updates. Companies need to be willing to engage in difficult conversations, even if they require examining past instances where a company may have caused harm, and acknowledging the negative impact that may have been caused.

To streamline the process, companies need to get everyone on board simultaneously. Leaders should set an example by demonstrating trans-inclusive behaviors and addressing any non-inclusive conduct, signaling a zero-tolerance stance against harassment.


3. Gender Neutral Language In Recruitment Messaging

Hiring professionals might think job descriptions, employment applications, and other recruitment marketing copy are gender-neutral, but it is important to remain aware of the potential sneakiness of gendered language. For example, using "he or she" to refer to potential candidates in a job description might seem inclusive, but opting for "they" or second-person pronouns like "you" would be more encompassing for transgender, non-binary, or gender nonconforming individuals. 

Tip: Use tools such as Textio or Gender Decoder to identify any problem areas with word choices or unintentional gendered language that may have inadvertently crept into recruitment content.


4. Be Intentional When Recruiting

To actively promote inclusivity and attract diverse talent, companies should actively participate in job fairs and seize the opportunity to share information about their inclusive practices. Additionally, it is crucial to broaden the reach of job postings by utilizing niche job boards that cater specifically to LGBTQIA+ individuals. Companies should also consider connections with colleges and universities that have LGBTQIA+ centers and student groups, where they can tap into a pool of talented individuals and actively promote job opportunities.

Also, posting job listings on LGBTQIA+ job boards and engaging with social media groups dedicated to LGBTQIA+ employment can further extend the visibility of these opportunities. Ensuring that the company's diversity statement is easily accessible on the website communicates transparency and inclusivity, eliminating the need for employees or potential candidates to inquire about it separately.

inclusive recruitment marketing


5. Ask Candidates & Employees For Honest Feedback

In the pursuit of creating a more inclusive recruitment process, seeking honest feedback from candidates can be instrumental in assessing the effectiveness of recruitment efforts. When conducting surveys or follow-ups with candidates, it is essential to ask specific questions about any instances during the process that may have made them feel marginalized or excluded based on protected characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.


6. Establish a Vocabulary in the Workplace 

To ensure inclusivity, it is important to review the availability of prefixes in forms and surveys used in HR and other data systems (such as the ATS), allowing for options beyond the traditional Mr/Mrs/Ms, such as Mx. If electronic systems do not accommodate this, consider whether this information is necessary at all, and extend the same consideration to paper-based documents. Also, replacing gendered language like "he/she" with "they" in statements is beneficial to give employees the freedom to be who they are – without having to label themselves directly. 

Tip: Raising awareness of gender identity and avoiding assumptions can be achieved by including pronouns after profile names and email signatures. 

Recognizing that individuals use different words to express their identities, it is crucial to respect trans employees' and candidates’ preferences and seek their input on how they want to be referred to. Encourage employees and candidates to share their preferred pronouns, names, and titles. Normalizing respectful conversations about these preferences can promote a more inclusive work environment. A survey has highlighted that 75% of individuals have concealed their identities to avoid mistreatment at work, emphasizing the importance of removing assumptions and allowing people the freedom to be themselves without fear of judgment.

To help start the conversation, make sure to create a central resource that employees can easily access, and begin conversations around vocabulary by sharing a glossary of terminology.


7. Implement Trainings and Programs

To foster an inclusive and supportive workplace, companies need to provide employees with trainings on how to avoid gender identity-related discrimination and workplace harassment. Leadership should actively speak up and be involved and be active in these trainings. This can promote positive change by facilitating interaction, learning about experiences, acknowledging challenges, and fostering empathy. Implementing these trainings can help foster an inclusive employer brand as well.

Tip: Demonstrating external commitment to transgender individuals empowers employees, while encouraging other organizations to follow suit. 

Also, consider implementing a trans allies program where cisgender employees serve as informal champions for their transgender colleagues. It is vital to create an environment where colleagues are encouraged to speak out against both subtle and overt forms of discrimination, relieving trans employees of the job of educating their coworkers.

diversity training for the workplace


8. Have Analytics in Place to Track Progress

Recording and analyzing data is crucial for effective diversity and inclusion policies. Without this process, companies cannot make progress, identify gaps, or improve their efforts. Regular reporting allows for sharing results within the company community, fostering input, visibility, and trust. It promotes a collective approach towards common goals and enhances loyalty and support. 

Strong reports also provide a competitive advantage, positioning the business as a thought leader and appealing to customers, stakeholders, and investors.


Moving Forward

Trans inclusion in the workplace is a matter of social justice and an essential inclusionary practice. By prioritizing and actively promoting an inclusive culture that embraces all gender identities, organizations position themselves as progressive, forward-thinking, and attractive to a diverse pool of talent. 

Remember, change takes time, and there’s no “one size fits all” approach to trans inclusivity. All practices must be flexible and adjusted as the needs of the company and team evolve. Beginning this inclusion journey enables companies to foster an environment where every transgender employee feels supported and comfortable in the workplace.



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