Discrimination against a particular group of people is morally unacceptable. However, it continues to happen across the country. To uphold the progressive principles of our society, its necessary to have philosophical, political, and legal discussions of transgender discrimination in the workplace.
Fortunately, there are improvements in this area. In this article, we’ll go over:
- Statistics about the current LGBTQ+ environment;
- Great companies that support transgender people;
- Suggestions on what can be done to move forward in reducing inequality.
Facts About Transgender Discrimination in the Workplace
When an employer can deny someone a job based on their identity without consequence, it creates a hostile environment for LGBTQ+ people. For instance, transgender discrimination in the workplace is reflected in these statistics:
- 16% of transgender respondents lost a job because of their gender identity or expression, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS). Another 30% reported being denied a promotion.
- The USTS survey also revealed that 59% of respondents avoided using a public restroom in the last year.
- 41% of workers felt singled out at work by transgender-specific jokes, as reported by The Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
- 22% have not been paid equally or promoted at the same rate as their non-LGBTQ+ peers, according to The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).
These facts about discrimination in the workplace also reveal that employment discrimination affects transgender people consistently across the nation. What is true for one state is also for others. And studies conducted in various local and state jurisdictions are proof of that.
Discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity negatively impacts companies and employees in many ways. Based on individual accounts, it affects all areas of business:
- Job performance and productivity
- Marketing to consumers
Not to mention, inequality harms the wider economy both domestically and globally. A study concluded that the existence of political and legal rights and other institutional features for transgender individuals generates a lasting economic effect.
On average, the Transgender Rights Index (TRI) shows a positive correlation with per capita GDP. This means that richer countries tend to have a higher TRI score. So, when these rights aren’t fulfilled, countries are losing millions in wealth.
Understanding the Transgender Community
Despite the fact that visibility has increased in recent years, many Americans still don’t personally know anyone who is transgender. It’s the same with transgenders in the workplace. Even if people have seen transgender people in the media, most haven’t worked with them in the professional setting. This means Americans need to go the extra mile to truly understand.
The transgender community is subject to many stereotypes and misconceptions. For example, that people choose to be transgender, that they can be cured, or even that they are sexually perverted. Naturally, because of these harmful beliefs, LGBTQ+ advocates are met with resistance. This resistance has maintained a key advantage in public discussions against inclusiveness.
To tackle transgender workplace issues, we first need to be able to listen. Ask the same questions that you would ask anyone else. Also, keep in mind that being transgender is not their entire identity.
Knowing what to say or not to say is a common concern. The good thing is that making a mistake is okay as long as the person is open-minded. If you accidentally use the wrong pronoun, you can simply apologize. Or if you don’t know how to behave, you can ask.
Things You Can Do for Transgender Equality
People at any level can participate in creating opportunities for transgenders. It takes cooperation and dedication from everybody to make real changes. Se, regardless of your current position, you have your own level of power over your social environment.
Senior leaders can do the right thing for workers as well as strategically set themselves apart for talent and innovation. Here are some measures that they can take:
- Evaluate whether the policies make it clear that LGBTQ+ inclusion is one of the company’s values;
- Determine knowledge gaps and conduct employee training if needed;
- Utilize partnerships and ask for their help to educate leadership on transgender issues in the workplace.
Mid-level managers also have a big influence on adapting the company culture to encourage safe spaces for transgender and transitioning employees. Some suggestions include:
- Reveal unconscious bias or “hidden bias” in their teams and address them;
- Hold team-building activities showing that they are intentional with their inclusive practices;
- Equip employees with inclusive vocabulary that helps them communicate clearly and respectively on the transgender struggle.
Lastly, individual workers can make effective improvements. To foster transgender inclusion in the everyday workplace environment, they can:
- Challenge your own beliefs about LGBTQ+ identities and how you choose to express your opinions at work;
- Defining your own worth and value as a human being and extend it to others;
- Don’t single out transgender co-workers or be overly protecting. Instead, treat them as equals.
Inclusive Companies that Support Transgender Issues in the U.S.
Trans-friendly companies are on the frontline of creating equal employment and a discrimination-free workplace. It’s important to not only be vocal on the issues but also to show their commitment in action. It includes transgender inclusion in hiring, company policies, and overall attitude from all workers.
We want to highlight some companies with transgender benefits that take meaningful steps. Examples in the sector of enterprise business include:
- Visa – The company has held a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index for five years in a row.
- Uber – With a 100-score rating for HRC’s Corporate Equality Index over the past few years, Uber’s current employees share that it changes the world for the better.
- Google – The company is partnered with various LGBT organizations that help them inform programs and policies.
- IKEA Group – Ikea is known for its fully inclusive work environments, with each location having its own diversity and inclusion ambassador.
- Unilever – It’s committed to partnerships with large-scale advocacy organizations, including the Trans Justice Funding Project and PFLAG.
- Lush – Lush consistently donates to the National Center for Transgender Equality and helps with research to abolish the administrative breakdown of transgender safety rights.
Other companies that have voiced their support for transgender, gender non-binary, and intersex people are Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Etsy, E.Y., PayPal, Twitter, Shutterstock, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Hilton Worldwide, Nike, Johnson & Johnson, and many more. All of them have a long way to go, but there are encouraging signs.
Some small and medium-sized businesses that have shown respect and transparency in policy-making for transgender people are TripAdvisor, Headspace, Patreon, Twilio, Hootsuite, Witeck Communications, and Shift Technologies.
Of course, there are dozens more. If you want to show support personally, research some companies you already buy from and see whether their policies align with your views.
Protection of Human Rights and Opportunities for Transgenders
For transgender workers, progress can’t come fast enough. Arguments for LGBTQ+ rights are based on the idea that gender identity is innate, immutable, or unassociated with choice. And it’s about time this idea was seen as fundamental.
It’s important to mention transgender people face several barriers that make their jobs harder than they need to be. Not all of them are associated with company policies and culture. Equality also implies protection in the areas of:
- Health – Adequate level of preventive care, primary care, physical exams, and STD testing. Also, qualified nurses and doctors who are informed about appropriate health care needs;
- Economics – Preventive and reactive measures against poverty and unemployment, discrimination in education, and homelessness;
- Safety – Protections against targeted, profiled, harassed, and abused by law enforcement nationwide;
- Civil rights – Recognition and respect for civil rights, including identity documents and immigration rights.
It doesn’t mean we have to create specific opportunities for transgenders. On the contrary – they are equal members of our society and deserve to have the same human rights. Both persons with either cisgender or transgender identities shouldn’t feel distressed from social or other pressures to perform well at the workplace.