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Company Culture

Transgender Day of Visibility: Resilience and Empowerment

Gender identity and diversity are not as uncommon in workplace discussions today as they were years ago. A recent survey found that 1.6% of adults in the U.S. are transgender or nonbinary with 5.1% of those adults under 30 years old. Additionally, the use of pronouns has been gaining traction with 26% of adults reporting that they personally know someone who uses “they” instead of just “he” or “she”—up from 18% in 2018.

A diverse workforce has also shown to provide invaluable benefits to businesses—35% higher financial returns than national averages. But many LGBTQ+ employees are still facing fear of rejection, discrimination, and other negative repercussions of revealing their identity and living out their authentic selves. A survey revealed that LGBTQ+ employees who felt inclined to suppress their identity also experienced increased levels of stress and anxiety surrounding health issues and work-related complaints.

International Transgender Day of Visibility is a day to celebrate the resilience and empowerment of transgender and non-binary individuals by promoting their voices and experiences, as well as attracting attention to the poverty, discrimination, and violence the communities face.

Although there has been change throughout the nation over the years—the 2020 Supreme Court decision to uphold Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect LGBTQ+ discrimination in the workplace and President Joe Biden’s proclamation—there is still a long way to go.

4 Ways to Protect and Support LGBTQ+ Workers

1. Update Workplace Policies

The first step is reviewing your workplace policies and updating—or where necessary—revising them to incorporate appropriate, gender-neutral language. For example, instead of using “he” and “she,” use “they.”

Other company policies to consider include creating unisex bathrooms where nonbinary individuals (and transgender) may feel more comfortable, incorporating pronoun selection to existing internal processes (i.e. signature lines) and/or recruiting (i.e. equal employment opportunities sections on job descriptions and applications), and addressing related issues that may arise (i.e. complaint process).

2. Invest in Regular Training and Education

The first step in protecting and supporting LGBTQ+ workers is conducting regular training and education. These training sessions might cover topics, such as bias (i.e. gender, unconscious), discrimination, emotional intelligence, microaggressions, and terminology (i.e. trigger words, appropriate terms and use). Consider incorporating an educational session led by a professional speaker in your DEIB initiatives. Training and education can not only provide your employees with information on the topic, but also the resources and tools to navigate a topic that might be uncomfortable or unfamiliar to them.

3. Explore and Expand Benefits

One way to include LGBTQ+ employees in benefits offerings is to extend healthcare benefits to domestic partners of employees. This includes paid leave, bereavement, mental health, and pharmaceutical coverage. Ensuring gender transitioning benefits are covered under medical plan offerings is also a great way to showcase support.

Additionally, in taking pulse surveys, it is important to maintain anonymity, as well as provide employees an option to identify as LGBTQ+ and express concerns regarding their workplace experience.

Another great way to expand benefits for LGBTQ+ employees is to create support groups, such as employee resource groups or employee assistance programs. If your company doesn’t have one yet, explore developing a DEIB committee to initiate LGBTQ+ and other DEIB-related initiatives.

4. Partner with Compatible Organizations

What better way to support your LGBTQ+ employees than to partner with compatible organizations that can provide additional resources, tools, and support? From prominent national and international organizations like The Trevor Project and The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, to local organizations, forming alliances with opportunities to volunteer, donate, or promote (i.e. events, social media campaigns) are great ways to help support your transgender, nonbinary, and LGBTQ+ employees. For more LGBTQ+ organizations, click here.

If you’re looking for more ways to contribute to the conversation and be proactive in supporting underrepresented communities in your workforce, explore Namely’s HR Guide to Employee Activism and DEI.

Sources: World Economic Forum, My HR Toolkit, McGuire Woods, The Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, Pew Research

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