Transgender experience at work: How companies can improve it

It is not uncommon that even businesses that claim to be LGBTQ+-friendly tend to focus more on the "LGB" than the "TQ+."The industry isn't yet there; only 64 percent of transgender tech workers feel safe at work, according to a 2020 study..

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Are you aware that a person (18-67years) spends on average 92,122 hours working in an office over their lifetime?

In other words, the workplace is where we spend the majority of our lives learning, earning & growing but sometimes work can be a stressful experience on its own for many of us. 

What would it be like to carry the additional burden of having to deny and suppress one of the most fundamental aspects of who you are, your gender identity, simply because it doesn’t conform to society’s gender expression norms? What would it be like if you reveal your authentic self to the people you work with every day, only to be rejected, ignored, or ostracized in return? What kind of life would you lead if this happened to you?

Most transgender people are confronted with stigma, discrimination, hostility, and some sense of being pressured to “manage” their identities in social settings, including the workplace. Having these experiences can lead to a whole range of psychophysiological responses that have catastrophic consequences for a trans individual’s emotional well-being, job satisfaction, and desire to remain at a job.

Among the best places to work for LGBTQ+ employees, Google, Apple, and Salesforce are leading the way. Having trans engineers, designers, and developers on staff is key to calling out gendered binaries and gendered language in code – and as part of that, the workplace must not be hostile or uncomfortable for them. 

But in spite of a growing awareness of trans issues globally, many employers are still ill-equipped to provide policies and workplace cultures that support trans employees. A lack of understanding contributes to the problem. It is not uncommon that even businesses that claim to be LGBTQ+-friendly tend to focus more on the “LGB” than the “TQ+.”

The industry isn’t yet there; only 64 percent of transgender tech workers feel safe at work, according to a 2020 study.

Those who strive to make their organizations successful and make a difference should never feel marginalized or afraid to come to their workplace. However, that’s not the only factor. When businesses fail to adopt trans-specific policies and practices, they face higher turnover, decreased engagement, and possibly lawsuits as a result. The company’s brand is also damaged when discriminatory behavior is practiced.

The tech industry still needs long way to go in terms of supporting transgender employees. These are measures companies can take now to improve the rights for transgender people.

1. Offer comprehensive health insurance & plans:

Many transgender people in the workplace are concerned about health care. Transgender employees need plans to cover the costs of hormone replacement therapy, surgery, and counseling.  There are very few companies providing these types of plans to their trans employees and amongst them, Adobe is the one that provides range of healthcare benefits to their employees.

It is often a relief for transgender employees to find doctors and obtain prescriptions when their company health plans cover them.

2. Pronouns and name usage:

Paying attention to their correct names & Pronoun introductions are one of the easiest ways to make transgender employees feel comfortable in the office. When email signatures, Slack profiles and conversations are standardized, it’s easier for trans teammates to share their identities openly and without feeling left on their own.

The majority of trans people identify on the binary scale-as either male or female-and use he, him, and his or she, her, and hers as their pronouns. Some other groups. such as genderqueer, gender-fluid, and non-binary individuals use alternative pronouns such as they, them, and theirs, or ze, zir, and zem.

3. Developing Employee Resource Groups:

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) allow your teams to share their unique experiences with each other and bond as a team.

Transgender employee resource groups (ERGs) serve as a good place to initiate conversations around trans issues and workplace inclusion, but it’s important that those conversations don’t stay within the ERG. Ideally, employers should aim to create a workplace atmosphere that encourages people to be themselves and voice their opinions, without making them feel as though they have to constantly educate others.

4. Privacy should be respected:

Trans employees face unique challenges and difficulties, but they deserve the same respect and privacy as any other employee. If a person does not freely volunteer information such as their birth name, medical history, or transition journey, it is invasive to ask for this information. Make sure you are thoughtful about the questions you ask and ask only relevant or necessary questions.

5. Invest your time in Learning:

It’s okay if you’ve yet to learn everything. Transgender people are accustomed to being on the defensive when it comes to their identity, so asking them the same questions repeatedly can wear them out. Rather, you should preemptively learn on your own time by seeking resources beforehand.

When company decision-makers take the initiative to learn about the problems create a sense that their teammates and workers are valued as people, not just as employees.

Conclusion:

Developing our full potential at work can only be done when we feel completely authentic and connected to our organizations. The same is true for trans employees. Few companies have established an inclusive work environment for people who don’t identify as gendered. 

Employers who get this right are more than just business savvy. Also, they are cultivating a corporate legacy that emphasizes human dignity and the importance of doing the right thing for employees.

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