As an inclusive employer, you should be able to provide a safe and happy workplace for all employees, including those that are transgender. According to LGBT charity Stonewall, people perform better in the workplace when they can be themselves; and this is exactly the case with employees that are able to live as their preferred gender.
By recognising the challenges that transgender employees could face in your workplace you are helping to create a workplace that includes and suppers them; worryingly an EU LGBT+ survey found that 86% of British transgender people think transgender discrimination is widespread in the UK.
Research by the charity Stonewall found that colleagues can be rude or insensitive about a transitioning colleague and this is why it is important that employers ensure staff members understand transphobia will not be tolerated, in the exact same way racism or sexism is not tolerated in the workplace.
We would recommend that you equip line managers with the understanding and capability to have conversations with employees and provide appropriate support as the line managers will be the first port of call for any transgender employees and concerns or issues they may have.
For employees that are undergoing gender reassignment surgery the process will be lengthy so it is important that the integration back to work is made to run as smoothly as possible by line managers and the HR department. There is no requirement for a transgender individual to inform your organisation of their gender reassignment, either prior to or during their employment. To also avoid breaching the individual’s privacy, you should meet with the employee, in private, to discuss sharing any information with necessary third parties. In addition, you must make sure an employee is not ‘outed’ as being transgender as this is likely to breach privacy laws.
We would also recommend that if you do not already have a transitioning at work policy in place that this policy is introduced as it will ensure that every employee has the same information and the right framework is in place for as long as it is needed. This policy should also include the anti-transphobia measures including a reminder to employees of wrong pronouns that should not be used deliberately and avoiding asking invasive medical questions. It is also a good idea to review the people management policies that you have in place to ensure that people management practices do not exclude transgender individuals; one example of this could be by using gender-neutral language.
Your organisation should trust individuals can choose appropriate facilities depending on their affirmed gender. To reduce the risk of concerns or complaints from other members of staff, you can communicate your organisation’s stance on the use of facilities to the workforce. In addition your organisation should implement the dress code flexibly to allow transgender staff the opportunity to amend and follow the dress code as per their gender identity.
You may want to consider offering help with transitioning in your employee benefits packaging such as mental health counselling for those in transition and coverage for sex reassignment surgery. Employee benefits like this will help the process along as smoothly as possible for your employee and in turn your workplace.
The best way to find out how you can support your transgender employees is to listen to them and ensure they know that they can always come to you with any concerns or suggestions that they have.
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