How to create an inclusive work environment for trans and non-binary employees



It's Pride Month! And with diversity, equity and inclusion at the top of many organisations' agendas, businesses are looking to show their support for the LGBTQIA+ community during the month of June, but what are the critical topics for discussion in 2023? And how can business leaders further improve the inclusivity of their working environments for these individuals?

Conversations around LGBTQIA+ inclusion are always progressing, and recently the focus has been on gender identity. This topic has had many people sharing differences of opinion from celebrities and government ministers as well as from the general population. The conversation has rarely been out of the news over the past few months.

As such, many organisations are keen to show their support for those who are transgender or non-binary. However, as discussed in our previous article, 'How can organisations better support LGBTQIA+ employees in the workplace?', it is not enough to pay these issues lip service and therefore, companies should be mindful of issues like 'transwashing' as it can both offend the transgender community and damage a firm's reputation in the process.

What is transwashing in business?

Transwashing in a business sense refers to the practice of being seen to promote trans inclusion for reputational purposes only, with a lack of regard for whether it is benefiting those it claims to support. Such as claiming that a service is trans-friendly without any substance behind the claim to suggest that the service has any specific transgender offering or is staffed by transgender individuals.

Research shows that in today's more knowledgeable and aware society, transgender consumers tend to favour brands that offer positive and inclusive experiences, with customers moving away from products and services that blatantly transwash as they can be patronising and offensive. With nearly half a million people in the 2021 UK census identifying as 'other' sexual orientations or stating that their gender identity was different from their sex registered at birth, along with their friends, families and other socially conscious individuals, it is clear to see how this issue could be damaging to a company's reputation and sales.

Supporting transgender and non-binary employees and customers in the right way

Firstly, it is essential to recognise that gender is an integral part of an individual's identity. Leaders should encourage the education and normalisation of gender identities that are non-binary and avoid any stereotypes or unconscious bias. An excellent way to promote this within a workforce is to provide training about gender identity, transgender history and culture. It is also essential to review company recruitment practices and D,E&I policies to ensure they are inclusive when addressing gender identity.

In addition, it can be a positive first step to provide employees with the ability to visibly state their preferred pronouns (e.g. on email footers, social media profiles, and name badges) and use inclusive language in meetings and communications – something which many organisations are starting to embrace.

Another way to show that a company genuinely cares about their LGBTQIA+ workers is to provide facilities which meet the needs of transgender or non-binary employees to ensure they feel comfortable and accepted in the workplace (e.g. appropriate toilet facilities).

Further to this, it is vital to help employees connect with other employees that are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and a great way to do this is to set up affinity groups within the workplace.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don't just do these things for Pride month. One of the best ways to show that your organisation supports and values transgender and non-binary employees is to continue with positive actions throughout the year, and embed inclusivity into your company culture. 

If you are looking for support in developing your D,E&I policies, or are an HR professional from within the D,E&I space, talk to McGregor Boyall today and find out how we can help you.