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4 Ways to Create a Transgender-Inclusive Firm



Work is stressful. And many transgender people have the added stress of denying or suppressing their gender identity because it doesn't conform with society's norms. In many workplaces, it's simply not safe for trans people to reveal or advocate for themselves. When they do, they may be ignored, ostracized or even fired.


While the transgender rights movement has been going on for decades, it hasn't received the same amount of attention as some other diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in many workplaces. In some cases, employers and employees want to be inclusive but aren't sure where to start. They might not understand all the terminology and are afraid of getting it wrong. If that sounds familiar, here are four ways to start creating a more transgender-inclusive firm.


Educate yourself

One of the first things you can do to create a more inclusive workplace is educating yourself.

One helpful definition to get you started is "cisgender." The Human Rights Campaign defines cisgender, or cis, as "a term used to describe a person whose gender identity aligns with those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth."


Why is this term so important? Because it shows that cisgender is not universal or assumed. Historically, we haven't acknowledged cis people as a category, but we have acknowledged trans people as a category. This is akin to saying trans people are abnormal while everyone else is normal.


There's no need to use the terms cis or trans when referring to experiences shared by trans and cis people of the same gender. However, it's helpful when discussing experiences unique to those groups.


Proactively incorporate nondiscrimination

Trans individuals face discrimination when seeking medical care, housing and employment. In fact, according to a report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

  • Trans people experience unemployment at twice the rate of the general population, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate

  • 90% of trans people have experienced harassment or mistreatment on the job or taken actions to avoid it

  • 47% of transgender or gender non-conforming people have been fired, not hired or denied a promotion because of their identity

The Supreme Court rules that all LGBTQ+ people are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but the ruling doesn't mean workplace discrimination against transgender people has gone away. It just gives them the right to sue — if they have the resources to do so.


Federal protections for trans people are weak. State protection against discrimination in the workplace around sex and gender varies depending on how state laws define them and court interpretations. But you don't have to wait for laws to catch up. Incorporate non-discriminatory policies and practices that support transgender individuals in your firm.


Avoid gendered language and practices

Review all of your benefits, policies, procedures, newsletters and marketing materials with a gender lens to ensure equality across the firm.


Things like your dress code and parental leave policies can be full of words like he or she, husband or wife, and mother or father. Update them with gender-neutral terms like they/them, spouse or partner, parent or caregiver.


Changes like these can help your firm be more inclusive beyond the binary.


Include gender-specific training in your diversity training

Many firms conduct diversity training to help employees navigate race and sexual harassment issues. Include transgender issues in those training sessions. Your training should cover:

  • Gender-based harassment training

  • How to intervene when employees witness harassment or abuse

  • Pronoun training

As with all employee training, this is a process rather than a one-time event. These practices must be reinforced consistently throughout the organization to be effective. It can be tough to start talking about transgender inclusivity at work if you're unfamiliar with the terminology and why it matters. Taking the time to educate yourself can help you feel more comfortable. You may make some mistakes or missteps along the way, but people in the LGBTQ+ communities generally understand this, especially if it's clear you're putting in the effort to learn and correct mistakes.

Here are a few good resources to help you get started:

 

Do you need help with your firm’s hiring and talent strategy?


Boomer Talent Consulting can help you get clarity on your firm’s most critical talent objectives and create a go-forward strategy suited to your firm’s unique needs. Schedule a discovery call today to begin implementing an organizational structure that is positioned and accelerating into the future.

 

As a Project Coordinator for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Katelynn is excited to work with a company that prioritizes allyship, cultural awareness and inclusion. Her primary focus is supporting Boomer Consulting’s Project Managers and handling events at the Accounting Innovation Center.

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