What’s Your Pronoun? Strategies for Inclusion in the Workplace

As more and more companies move from “policy to practice” and imbue their cultures with a greater degree of inclusivity, the listing of preferred pronouns in company-related communication vehicles such as email has become much more prevalent.

To this end, my friends at Out and Equal Workplace Advocates have created another wonderful resource full of practical guidance on implementing successful practices around pronouns in your workplace….read more

MAPPING LGBTQ EQUALITY: 2010 TO 2020

We have come a long way in ten years concerning LGBTQ equality in the workplace. HOWEVER, as you will see in this report from the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) there is still MUCH WORK to be done! This is of particular note for transgender individuals who still can be fired for coming out in 27 states (54%)!

Mapping LGBTQ Equality: 2010 to 2020 presents a fresh perspective on the current status of LGBTQ equality in the states by examining MAP’s policy tally, encompassing nearly 40 LGBTQ-related laws and policies across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories as of January 1, 2020. The report also compares the current status of LGBTQ policy landscape to the status of these same laws as of January 1, 2010.

Please download the report and inform yourself.

You Can Learn a Lot About Workplace Equality from a Map (originally published in Sept., 2019)

Last summer I had the pleasure of presenting a workshop at the Gender Health Conference: Inland Region held on the UC Riverside campus in Riverside, California. To those that are familiar with my work, the title of the workshop “What’s Happening in Today’s Workplace for the Transgender & Gender Non-Conforming Community” should come as no surprise. But you may ask yourself, “why is that topic being discussed at a conference focusing on the health of the transgender, intersex and queer communities?”

The answer, oddly enough, is very straightforward: If you are trans, intersex or queer-identified and not employed, you do not have access to healthcare. But it doesn’t stop there. If you are not employed, you do not have . . . access to housing. If you are not employed, you don’t have access to . . . a rewarding quality of life. If you are not employed, you don’t have access to . . . a lot of things that many of us simply take for granted…read full article

Transgender Day of Visibility is Coming Up on March 31st

From my friends at Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. Did you know that the Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) is coming up on March 31st? Perhaps you did, or perhaps you didn’t. Regardless of the category, you find yourself in, please take a moment to download this wonderful resource designed to help you celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of your transgender employees not only on TDOV, but throughout the year as well! Educate yourself, please!

March 31st is Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) – a day where communities come together to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of transgender and gender non-conforming people. Out & Equal has produced a resource to help your organization participate and engage in this day of celebration. This resource should be a helpful tool for your organization’s year-round internal efforts for transgender inclusion and help guide your external communications around TDOV.

 

When it Comes to Transgender Workplace Inclusion Are You Resting on Your CEI Laurels?

So, the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for 2016 (CEI) has been out for a few months now and there are a number of companies that are newly minted “100’s” – in addition to the incumbent companies that have occupied the “perfect CEI score” space for a number of years now. In fact, according to my friends at the HRC’s Workplace Equality Program, the 2016 report contains the largest number of companies – 417 – that have garnered that coveted 100 score since its inception in 2002, and with it the right to promote themselves as “the best places to work for LGBT equality.” What’s more, a total of 511 “less-than-100” companies surveyed for the 2016 CEI now offer trans-inclusive healthcare – from a grand total of zero back in 2002. I suppose that means that there are 94 companies that still have work to do on one or more of the other CEI criteria, but I digress.

Regardless of the measurement, progress on transgender workplace inclusion has been clearly and definitively made and that is something we all can be very proud of. However, just because we’ve reached this new plateau doesn’t mean the work is finished. Hardly.

Flip the CEI over on its axis and you’ll see what I’m talking about. All you need do is look at the total number of companies that are a part of the survey – 851 – and do the math. Depending on which of the aforementioned numbers you choose, that means either 40% or 51% of companies on the survey still have unfinished business when it comes to creating fully inclusive workplaces for their transgender and gender non-conforming (GNC) employees and recruits – and by any measure, that’s still too many.

It is important to emphasize that this only pertains to the policy portion of the conversation. Arguably, the workplace inclusion narrative on transgender and GNC individuals has focused almost exclusively in this area. While that, of course, is beyond essential for creating the foundation for a safe and welcoming workplace, it is by no means a panacea.

Allow me to draw a personal parallel. When I transitioned a number of years ago, many of my colleagues and friends (both straight and LGBTQ) said that once my gender reassignment surgery (a choice, by the way, that was consistent with my own journey, and not meant to represent the entirety of the trans population) had been completed, my journey to my true self was also. The reality was that it was only just beginning, as I set out into the world living into my true self each and every day – and it continues to this day.

It’s much the same for trans and GNC workplace equality. Just because the policy work has been completed in a company does not mean the work is finished. In so many ways, it now signals a new phase of work that is equally, if not more, important: moving from policy to practice. As Chad Griffin, the HRC’s President, put it in his preamble to the latest CEI, “But we know that policies in and of themselves do not always translate into genuine inclusion of the transgender community. Critical cultural shifts need to take place to foster greater inclusion of the entire LGBT community.”

The reality of the matter is that for many companies, whether or not they have any “out” trans or GNC employees – that they know of – the next chapter of this workplace inclusion story will revolve around more basic things that will breathe life into their foundational policies. I have found, that for many of the companies I have worked with, more practical guidance is needed so that HR and D&I professionals can become more comfortable working with a transgender-identified person – for perhaps the first time in their life.

What type of practical guidance am I referring to? It has been my experience that this guidance falls into what I call the “Three C’s” of trans/GNC workplace inclusion:

Communication & Language
Cultural Acuity
Continued Education

Communication & Language

Communication can often be seen as the most basic of workplace skills, but it can often be the most overlooked. When viewed through the lens of trans/GNC workplace inclusion it is even more important. Communicating sincerely with authentic intent, along with non-verbal cues that send the message that you really do care is something that you might view as quite rudimentary, but to the trans/GNC employee – be they established or a new hire – it means everything, because for many, respectful conversation is seen as quite affirming of who they have always known themselves to be.

In this space I have previously discussed the importance of “getting the language right,“ because for many managers, doing the right thing involves not wanting to embarrass themselves or insult their trans/GNC colleagues by using incorrect or inappropriate words – like pronouns, for example. To be sure, that can be rather daunting for the uninitiated, but here’s the thing: when in doubt about what to say – just ask. What’s more, there are plenty of wonderful resources available to guide you in these conversations. For your reference, I have listed these at the conclusion of this article.

Cultural Acuity

When it comes to your company’s culture I have always felt that any workplace inclusion effort does not occur in a vacuum. Your strategy and tactics are always developed and executed against the backdrop of your company’s culture – and only you know what that is, for it can vary widely from enterprise to enterprise. But to be successful in bringing trans/GNC workplace inclusion policy into common practice it will require you to become a student – if you aren’t already – of your particular company’s culture. Only the culturally savvy individual – regardless of whether you are an HR or D& I professional, employee resource group leader or manager of a trans/GNC employee – will know how to navigate this culture to successfully build alliances with effective executive sponsors and business unit leaders who can further the cause of trans/GNC workplace inclusion.

The concern that I have is that despite our best efforts, we still are combatting bias – both conscious and unconscious – towards trans/GNC employees in workplaces across Corporate America. It is precisely this bias, regardless of your CEI score and adopted policies, that can inhibit trans and GNC employees from participating fully in ALL of the opportunities available to them within the enterprise: such as leadership and career development initiatives and opportunities for movement across business units and work teams.

Continued Education

In the end, diligence, persistency and continued education will carry the day as you embark on the objective of imbuing your organization with the special type of compassion that is required to ensure that your workplace practices the tenets of trans/GNC inclusion that your policies outline. Make no mistake about it, regardless of ever-increasing levels of visibility for the transgender community in popular culture, the need for education is great. It is precisely this element that can serve to eliminate fear and ultimately sow the seeds of acceptance – and inclusion – for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals both inside and outside of the workplace.

This story was originally featured in the February 22, 2016 edition of Diversity Best Practices’ Diversity in the News.