Improving Transgender equity in the workplace UK
Why is an equitable workplace important?
When discussing equity, it is important to note the difference between the term’s ‘equality’ and equity. Whilst equality aims to provide all employees withthe same opportunities and resources. Equity on the other hand, recognizes that everyone possesses different levels of resources and will then aim to provide opportunities and support accordingly. Employment is a key area of importance for transgender individuals, in the US for example, it enables ‘financial access to healthcare and participation in family and social life’1
Fundamentally, equity is crucial in creating a holistic workplace as an equitable working environment encourages and motivates individual and community achievement. The empowerment of all employees should be equally valued in the workplace to create equal opportunity. However, only with the prioritisation of diversity and inclusion can equity be successfully achieved.
The importance of promoting transgender equity in the workplace
As suggested by GIRES2. Therefore, I shall be using the term ‘transgender’ or ‘trans’ for short.
There is value in the promotion of transgender equity in the workplace for all employees and employers. By becoming aware of the issues involved and establishing correct explanation3, employers can foster a clearer direction in their training of employees regarding trans rights, and the forms of discrimination, harassment and victimisation transgender individuals are commonly subjected to in the workplace. It is therefore important for employers to review their policies and handbooks and provide training and relevant education programmes, in order to help protect both the employees and themselves.
Methods of promoting inclusive equity for transgender individuals and the responsibility of companies
Drawing on Elias et al4, I shall propose sustainable methods employers could consider when promoting inclusive equity for transgender individuals in the workplace.
- Clear and practical training should be given to all employees with explicit and useful examples of what prohibited behaviour entails. This should include a warning against any type of harassment including encouraging all employees to report any type of harassment they may encounter, stressing the importance of active allyship. When dealing with discrimination training, the incorporation of culture awareness, and anti-harassment should all be considered when trying to create a more inclusive and positive workplace environment.
- Organisations should also take into account the tone of company policies by stressing the importance of correctly gendering individuals when referring to their pronouns. Care should also be made when conforming to the binary of ‘men’ and ‘women’ as many individuals who experience gender fluidity may not associate with such terms.
- In all workplaces, correct resources and support should always be given to employees to encourage a progressive working environment. Although in the example of Elias et al5 a Workplace Transition Plan was mandatory to complete, with this being too absolutist, employers should however offer the support of a Workplace Transition Plan to all individuals in a bid to support employees. A Workplace Transition Plan should assist individuals with any issues that may arise, whilst offering ongoing support. A timeline could be established to take into account the time needed for administration to complete name changes, any possible leave needs etc.
- Possible inclusive fields for recruitment and customer pages that collect data could be the inclusion of the title Mx which further promotes inclusion. This acknowledges multiple gender identities and provides further choice of different pronoun markers.
UK legislation of transgender rights in the workplace
The Equality Act (2010) prohibits discrimination because of one’s beliefs. This means that a belief must satisfy the five criteria set out at paragraph 24 in Grainger v Nicholson (2010) for it to be a ‘philosophical belief’6. However, it is still clear that UK law has not been effective at stopping discriminatory behaviour towards transgender individuals in the workplace7, and therefore, more supportive approaches are required especially from employers in the workplace who have a responsibility to ensure that they are providing an equitable working environment. In addition, beliefs on gender reassignment are in fact a protected characteristic by UK law.8
1 Rundall, E. and Vecchietti, V. (2010). (In) Visibility in the Workplace: The Experiences of Trans-Employees in the UK. In Transgender Identities Routledge. (Open Access), pp. 141-164
2 www.gires.org.uk. (n.d.). Gender Identity Research & Education Society – Improving the Lives of Trans People. [online] Available at: https://www.gires.org.uk.
3 Davis, D. (2009). Transgender issues in the workplace: HRD's newest challenge/opportunity. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 11(1), p.109.
4 Elias, N.M., Johnson, R.L., Ovando, D. and Ramirez, J. (2018). Improving transgender policy for a more equitable workplace. Journal of Public Management & Social Policy, 24(2)
5 Elias, N.M., Johnson, R.L., Ovando, D. and Ramirez, J. (2018). Improving transgender policy for a more equitable workplace. Journal of Public Management & Social Policy, 24(2), p65
6 Galbraith-Marten, Head of Legal Employment., 2021. Legal update: gender critical views and belief protection. Royal College of Nursing Magazines. https://www.rcn.org.uk/magazines/advice/2021/september/legal-update-gender-critical-views-and-belief-protection
7 Jones, J. (2013) Trans dressing in the workplace. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal.
8 Legislation.gov.uk. (2010). Equality Act 2010. [online] Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/7