Bobbi Pickard, the London Stock Exchange, and workplace transgender inclusion

Transgender inclusion at work starts with supportive policies, awareness raising, and action

History has been made at the London Stock Exchange with the first out trans person closing the markets, showing the financial institution’s clear commitment to trans visibility and inclusion.

Transgender inclusion at the London Stock Exchange

Bobbi Pickard, Founder and CEO of Trans in the City, an organisation to further the inclusion of transgender, non-binary, and gender diversity in business, closed the day’s trading on November 15 to highlight Transgender Awareness Week. Pickard was the first out trans woman at BP and is co-chair of its Pride Transgender Group.

In a statement on the day, Pickard said: “Trans people exist. We’re not going anywhere; we contribute a diverse range of perspectives, skills, and experience. We deserve to be recognised, and we will keep pushing for these contributions to be celebrated.”

While Pickard is an activist helping to raise awareness of trans people and their right to inclusion and belonging in the workplace, not every trans person will feel comfortable showing up authentically unless their employer makes their organisation a welcoming space.

With the number of transgender employees feeling they have to hide their identity in the workplace rising, organisations must become psychologically safe spaces for this group, not just during Transgender Awareness Week but all year round. Here are four steps to get started.

1. Have a ‘coming out policy’ and/or develop related strategies

Even if you don’t have a ‘coming out’ policy yet, ensure managers and especially HR have a supportive and continual dialogue with trans employees who want to come out or are in the process of undergoing gender transition. This can help create an approved policy that can be referred to going forward.

Frequent communication and hearing from the employee on what they need are essential. Help can come in regular check-ins such as calls or offering time off work for medical appointments.

Managers should be trained in how to support trans employees, so when they are approached for support, they are helpful and worried about getting things wrong.

2. Know the law and state your support

Even if you are in the process of devising policies, you can still state that your organisation has a zero-tolerance standing on employees being bullied or discriminated against in any way due to their gender identity or when they are undergoing transition.

Here, employers must know the law on not discriminating against staff who are undergoing gender transition, which includes those who propose or are currently “undergoing or have undergone a process or part of a process for the purpose of reassigning sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.” This means trans employees are protected at all stages of their transition journey.

3. Provide awareness training to the wider workforce

For trans employees to feel safe and accepted in the workplace, colleagues need to be educated about the trans community to help erase stereotypes, biases, and ignorance. Knowledge building can also help them become better allies to trans employees.

Stating your position as a trans-inclusive organisation is crucial for onboarding employees too, so they are aware of the diversity of employees that work in the organisation, including the behaviours that will not be tolerated, such as harassment, discrimination, and exclusionary behaviour.

Assuming there are trans people already in your workforce is a good place to start when educating the workforce, especially new starts. This way, tolerance and acceptance will be built into the DNA of their employee experience.

Awareness can also be raised via the circulation of community news and events in internal emails and newsletters, and especially in messages from senior leadership, which displays allyship and buy-in at the highest levels. Also, invite guest speakers from the trans community to address workers.

4. Put transgender inclusion into action

Statements about transgender inclusion will be pointless unless they become effective actions. For example, changing the names of toilets in the office from male and female to “identify as male and identify as female” and creating a separate gender-neutral bathroom will show purpose, encouraging staff to use their chosen pronouns in their email signatures.

Having allies in the workplace helping to run awareness-raising days and related events is progressive, but employers should ensure community members are at the heart of these initiatives and lead them. Hence why employee resource groups for all underrepresented communities, including transgender staff, are important, as it gives them a platform to discuss and improve issues from their perspective.

Trans employees are also less likely to feel safe and accepted at work if their organisation doesn’t make an effort to hire more diverse candidates like them into the business. Therefore, businesses should encourage trans candidates to apply to roles by stating this explicitly in their job postings. Current trans employees could be included on hiring panels during the interview stages.

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