Words like “inclusion” and “diversity” become mere lip service unless there are actual policies in place to ensure that a workplace is welcoming to employees of all backgrounds. And that includes transgender and non-binary individuals.
Here’s the thing, though: Creating an inclusive workplace for transgender employees starts by not assuming you don’t work with any trans or NB people to begin with. The fact of the matter is, you don’t actually know someone’s gender unless you ask what it is. (After all, you don’t want to misgender someone by judging them on their physical appearance.)
Currently, federal law prohibits workplace discrimination based on a person’s race, gender, or sex. Yet, there are no national, legal protections specific to transgender, gender non-conforming, and other gender minority employees. That’s why it falls upon individual work spaces to establish practices, procedures, and company cultures that minimize the potential for harm toward gender minorities.
Laying in place policies that don’t center cisgender as the norm helps create workplace where gender identity is respected. Instead, companies can allow the freedom and flexibility for employees to express their gender identity as they see fit, and to have work spaces that don’t restrict employees based on their gender.
The following tips can help create an inclusive workplace for transgender employees
Allow for employees to choose their name for company purposes
For some transgender or NB employees, their names might be different than what is on their legal forms. It’s important to protect the privacy of employees who have transitioned or taken on a different name than what is on their state identification forms.
For many reasons, they may go by a different name and gender than what’s reflected in their hiring paperwork. Talk to your company’s HR department about leaving room for new hires and employees to make note of their preferred name and pronouns.
Have gender-neutral bathrooms
Doing away with gender-specific bathrooms at a company can go a long way toward erasing the pressure an employee might feel about selecting one bathroom. A business can include signage that makes it clear the restrooms are meant for all employees, regardless of their gender.
Little details like including tampons and sanitary napkins in all restrooms can help. Companies can also rename “mother feeding rooms” to “parents feeding rooms,” since not all lactating parents might identity with the term “mother.”
Amend company listservs to not be divided solely based on men/women
Many companies often have internal listservs that divide employees into men and women. If your company has a listserv that goes out to “ladies@xyzcompany,” consider renaming it to a more inclusive name. This can be something like “women identified,” for example, which doesn’t force employees into an awkward position.
Set up a culture of using language in an inclusive way
It’s important for company executives and leadership to establish culture norms that go beyond the gender binary. A simple way to gut-check yourself is to watch company-wide language that addresses employees as “guys,” “girls” or “ladies.” Instead, consider gender-neutral language and labels like “team.”
Encourage employees to state their preferred pronouns
Whenever possible, state your pronouns upon meeting others. It’s also imperative to ask for an individual’s preferred pronouns and to abide by them without making it a big deal. An easy way to get started is to add your preferred pronouns to your signature—making it more comfortable for others to do the same.