INvolve’s Engagement Lead Jessica McLeish discusses some way businesses can commit to and prioritize trans inclusion.
Today marks Trans Day of Visibility, an opportunity for us all to celebrate the global, vibrant trans community, uplift them and most importantly use this day to create tangible goals for inclusion that go far beyond the day itself.
The last few years have seen a radical shift in the way that trans people are viewed in society, particularly as a result of increased media interest and lens on the community that isn’t always positive. In fact, according to our research on LGBT+ representation in the media, almost three-quarters of all respondents stated that depictions of the trans community in the news or press has been negative or highly negative. We also found that depictions of the community in the media can affect the treatment of trans employees. The need for vocally and actively safe spaces for trans people is at an incredible high with, what can at times feel like, a constant barrage of negative media representation and discourse around their existence. Therefore, it is vital that businesses are at the forefront of driving change for inclusion within their workplaces and beyond.
Driving change requires proactivity. It means that businesses and key decisionmakers shouldn’t be waiting for a watershed moment to ensure that they are inclusive of trans employees, especially since the need has been strongly established already. The onus for change is too often put on the marginalised person and for trans and/or gender non confirming people this can mean having to brave very difficult conversations and potentially put themselves into a situation that could be physically and/or psychologically unsafe. It is time for businesses around the world to drive proactive change for their employees and beyond.
To support you in creating trans-inclusive and safe workplaces, we’ve listed out some ways that organizations can stop being reactive and start being proactive in driving trans-inclusion.
Pronouns are important
Organizations shouldn’t wait for trans and/or gender non-conforming people to join a business to start taking trans inclusion seriously. One easy way to start the process is by displaying pronouns. Everyone has and uses pronouns, and by adding one’s own pronouns to email signatures and Zoom names, employees and businesses at large are committing to being visible allies and this practice is an easy way to start driving a trans inclusive environment. It’s also vital that business leaders realize there may already be trans and/or gender non-conforming individuals within the business who have yet to come out, potentially as a result of a seemingly non-inclusive work environment. Therefore, by positioning yourself as a visible and inclusive ally through implementing small and easy practices you are letting all your employees – trans or not – know that your workplace is a place where they can be themselves.
Gender neutral spaces
By committing to gender-specific spaces (such as bathrooms) businesses may be forcing employees to make a choice that doesn’t align with their identity. Employees are being told, implicitly, that should their gender identity not suit a binary or if it doesn’t align with that assigned at birth, that they are not recognized for who they are. A proactive approach in creating gender-neutral spaces is vital not just for trans and gender non-conforming employees who have yet to join the business, but for those who may already be a part of the organization.
Equally, it’s important that gender neutral spaces are accessible. Ensuring that they are placed in logical places with a building that are easy to get to, rather than awkwardly placed which makes accessibility difficult is just as important.
Much of the stigma and discrimination that trans people in business face is highlighted if not, uplifted, by misinformation and a lack of education. Businesses should work to educate their employees on trans inclusion, regardless of whether there are openly trans people within the business. For example, INvolve’s LGBTQ+ Inclusion Solutions provide a wide range of tailored trainings,that provide a fantastic starting point for education and provide practical tools for employees to drive their own learning and change forward.
There are many stressors a person can encounter in a workday. From an upcoming deadline or presentation to reaching a sales target or even coordinating their diaries. Carrying the added weight of not feeling included within a work environment because a person’s gender expression isn’t visibly recognized should not be a cause of stress to anyone. It’s vital that organizations create workplaces where the trans community can succeed, and most importantly thrive, authentically knowing that they are accepted as their full selves within business. Trans Day of Visibility allows us a springboard to make that change happen.
This piece has been written for Trans Day of Visibility 2022. However, the guidance and insights provided can be used all year round. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can support your organization to drive trans inclusion within your workplace.