Nov 19 2021 | admin
The world celebrates Transgender Awareness Week from November 13th to 19th leading up to the Trans Remembrance Day on November 20th when people mourn and remember the Transgender persons who lost their lives to a Transphobic society. This is a week to spread awareness and knowledge about the facts, issues, rights, and demands of the Transgender Community.
Transgender persons are one of the most oppressed communities in the world. Especially when it comes to employment their representation is minimal. It is primarily because the employer seldom offers job to transgender persons, due to many myths and phobia. Moreover, the emergence of the inclusion of diverse candidates at the corporate workplace in the late eighties saw a sea of change in the work environment and productivity in the western corporate world.
After the Apex Court of India recognized the rights of transgender persons in the NALSA judgment in 2014 and decriminalized Section 377 of IPC in 2018, Indian corporates opened their gates for people belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community. Because the inclusion of diversity is not a charity or any CSR campaign. Numerous studies in the past have shown how an inclusive environment helps corporations in improving productivity and financial gains.
But is it as simple as it looks? The inclusion of Transgender employees at the workplace is a very delicate and sensitive process.
Here is basic 10 ways to make the Workplace Transgender Inclusive:
- The Core Value:
Inclusion of Transgender persons at the workplace should not be only for promotion. It should be embodied in the core value of the organisation. The mission statement should reflect the same and should flow from the top, setting unambiguous terms and intention behind the Trans Inclusion policy. Trans persons searching for a job in an organisation first look for the mission statement and commitment of the organisation towards the community. It is the first document that sets the path for further steps of inclusion.
- Document it:
The work policy should be precise and should cover all aspects concerning the Trans employees. The onboarding is the first introduction of an employee to the organisation. The organisation shall ensure documentation and all related paperwork should be trans-friendly like the option of preferred name and legal name. And if a Transgender employee is not comfortable with revealing either of the name the HR guidelines should ensure privacy and confidentiality. The policy should also include the health benefits for Transgender persons and the compensation for employees going for Medical Transition. The organisation shall also help the Trans employees with other documents such as bank accounts, PF, gratuity, and the change of names in the official documents. One of the major issues faced by Transgender persons is housing. An organisation opting for Trans Inclusion at their workplace should also be concerned about the difficulty and help Transgender persons in finding out safe and affordable housing at their work location.
- Affirmative actions are the best way forward:
When an organisation is going ahead for Trans Inclusion at the workplace shall make an affirmative policy for hiring and retaining. Many people advocate merit before affirmative actions but in truth, an oppressed and lesser represented community cannot compete at the start, and they need some cushions. More so when it comes to the Transgender community where the education and literacy rate is heartbreaking. Hence, the organisations intending for Trans Inclusion shall keep a goal to hire at least such several Transgender employees as per their budget and workforce policy. But the most important thing is most Transgender persons lives in the closet. A truly inclusive workplace encourages people to come out with pride. So, organisations should first aim for coming out of their existing employees and then go for hiring new employees.
- It is the right to pee:
Washroom is the biggest debate when it comes to Transgender rights. Many people debate for a gender-neutral washroom, some for a separate washroom for Transgender people and some for allowing employees to use the restroom of their preferred gender. The organisation implementing this shall consider the employees and environment and go for the best possible option. However, a gender-neutral washroom is always the best-practiced option because when you create a separate restroom for transgender persons, you are further segregating them from the other employees. And when the organisation is using two binary restrooms and allowing employees to use the one identified with their gender, then it is discriminatory against the non-binary employees. Besides the restroom, there are many other infrastructures from signboards to designation names that should be gender neutral. Another most important issue that comes while making the workplace Trans inclusive is the binary dress code. An organisation intending to be truly inclusive shall do away with the dress code and let the employee choose what they want to wear and are comfortable with.
- Educate The Employee:
Only placing policies and infrastructure and hiring Transgender employees will never make the workplace truly inclusive if the organisation fails to create allies. The Cisgender employees will be in majority and a hostile response of them towards Transgender employees will not only make the workplace vulnerable but will also impact the mental health of the Transgender employees. It is important to train and educate cisgender employees on how to engage and behave with transgender employees. What to say and how to say without becoming Transphobic is important. Sometimes people out of curiosity and good intentions say something Transphobic which in turn becomes a traumatic experience for the Transgender person. Remember intention is no excuse for Transphobia. Cisgender employees need to be trained in this aspect before the inclusion of Transgender employees at the workplace. Unless the organisation creates more allies from the cisgender employee the workplace cannot be inclusive and safe. Training workshops, intersecting sessions, debates, discussions, there are many ways to train the employees and prepare them to work with Transgender employees. This organisation can do this training of employees either through an internal team or can also seek help from external DE&I coaches and trainers.
- It Is All About a Safe Environment:
The workplace is considered the second home. People spend more time at the workplace than their home. Moreover, people from the LGBTQIA+ community more often come out to their friends and colleague before their families. As such the safety of these employees at the workplace is of most importance. A trans person would never come out in an unsafe environment where they feel vulnerable. Most trans people fear losing their job or being denied promotion if they come out. The organisation must assure them of their safety and their concern. Moreover, transgender persons are most subjected to sexual, mental, and physical harassment. An inclusive workplace ensures their safety in this regard. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019 safeguard Transgender persons and makes discrimination and harassment due to gender identity as a punishable offence. Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 safeguards women from sexual harassment at the workplace. Organisations can also come out with their anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy taking into consideration both the acts to safeguard the interest of Transgender employees. Moreover, like the POSH training is mandatory for every employee, organisations intending to be truly inclusive for Transgender employees should also adopt similar periodical compulsory training of the Transgender Act. The most important point is not only to put strict anti-discrimination and anti-harassing policy but to ensure effective and timely implementation of the same.
- Set Goals Achieve Set New One:
It is important to set goals to be achieved when implementing any inclusion policy. The goals should be realistic and should not be abstract. Organisations shall set a matrix for the number of Transgender employees hired, retained, promoted, came out, and their engagement level. The goals should be set on these matrices. Periodical reviews of performance and engagement along with reviews of the matrix set forth can help the organisation keep the workplace inclusive. Once the goal is set the organisation shall set new goals. Because the inclusion of diversity is not a one-time achievement. It is a continuous process, and it evolves every day.
- Resource Groups Are Family:
Employee Resource Groups are the key to communication and a bridge between the employees and the management. A fruitful Transgender Employee Resource Group is the most important factor in the process of making the workplace Trans inclusive. The group shall be consisting of existing Transgender employees and to make it effective can also include allies in discussions. A couple of persons from Human Resource and Top management are always a welcome sign in the ERG. These ERGs not only discuss and highlight the issues of Transgender employees but also help them in coming out and during their transition. These groups are the support system for Transgender employees in the workplace and help them in every possible way.
- Be Seen Be Visible:
It is not only important that the organisation implemented the Trans inclusion policy, but it is also important that the commitment should be seen both within and outside the office premises. Collaborate with Transgender organisations, be a part of the pride parade, attend seminars on Transgender issues, take part in LGBTQIA+ job fairs, show visible solidarity with the office compound, decore the cafeteria, hoist the Trans Flag with pride, these little things go a long way to make the organisation visibly Trans Inclusive. This also attracts more efficient and skilled Transgender employees. Also, helps make more allies and make the workplace truly inclusive.
- Cheer and Celebrate:
Celebrate your Transgender employees. Not tokenism but to celebrate their success. It will boost the confidence of other Transgender employees; it will increase their visibility at the workplace. Celebrate the days, celebrate Transgender Visibility Day, Transgender Awareness Week, Trans Remembrance Day, celebrate the Transgender history of struggle. Make other employees learn about Transgender persons, their struggle, the community, the history. It will make the Transgender employees feel more inclusive and will make the Cisgender employees true allies.Inclusion is a continuous process and besides these 10 above said points, there are numerous other ways to make the workplace Trans Inclusive. It depends on the organisation and people making the effort for it. Organisations can start making the workplace Trans Inclusive either of their own through internal members or can take professional help from external consulting firms.But do remember why you are doing this? Inclusion is not an anti-discrimination policy; it is more than that. Inclusion of diversity is not a charity but for your organizational growth. Because people perform better and thrive at their job when they work as their true self.