4 tips for a trans-friendly workplace
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Transgender inclusion is not only a civil rights issue but also a business issue. Forbes estimates that North Carolina's controversial HB2 law has cost the state at least $630 million in lost business.
Currently, 20 states and several cities already have anti-discrimination laws based on gender identity, making lawsuits a possibility for businesses that fail to accommodate trans customers and employees properly. With President Donald Trump's executive order to withdraw of protections for transgender students and Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. heading to the Supreme Court, now is the time for businesses to signal their commitment to trans rights.
Here are four ways to show your business is committed to being a trans-friendly workplace:
1. Job application cues
The first step to a trans-friendly business is cultivating a trans-friendly staff. By simply adjusting a few instances of terminology and introducing a couple of extra boxes on your job application forms, you can indicate to potential employees your commitment to inclusion.
Instead of asking for gender and only offering male and female as options, include "nonbinary" as a possibility and an "other" box. Include an optional space for people to include their preferred pronoun or elaborate on their gender identity. In the application's nondiscrimination statement, include gender identity as protected.
2. Bathroom positivity
Bathrooms can be a place of trauma for transgender people. A UCLA researcher found that 70 percent of polled trans respondents had experienced harassment in or denial of access to a public restroom. As such, it is essential for a business to communicate their commitment to safety for trans people in public restrooms.
For single-occupancy restrooms, consider using an "All Gender" sign; for multiple-occupancy restrooms, consider posting a note outside the restroom noting your business's trans-friendly stance. Note that bathroom legislation such as HB2 and Texas' potential bill do not extend to private businesses and facilities — meaning private entities in these states are free to accommodate trans patrons as they wish.
3. Inclusive company policies
Workers are more productive when they feel they belong and are respected. Freedom of gender expression is essential to a person's sense of comfort. A business's dress code, then, must allow trans employees to wear clothing that aligns with their gender expression needs.
Company policy can help create a culture of support for transgender employees, no matter how far along they are in their transition.
Include gender identity in your business's nondiscrimination policy and in required sensitivity training sessions. Use these sessions to inform staff members about trans terminology (the National Center for Transgender Equality includes a helpful terminology page on their website). Establish recourses for trans employees experiencing harassment.
If your company provides healthcare, choose an insurance plan that covers transition-related care (a list of inclusive providers is available on the Human Rights Campaign's website).
4. Flags in the window
If a business is open to the public, a transgender pride flag sticker in the window can be a signal to trans people that they are welcomed and supported in your space. It also instantly indicates to the public your commitment to transgender rights and — more broadly — inclusion.
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