In my past role as a chief people officer, I was charged with understanding how the staff viewed their experiences within the organization. To do that, I looked to the edges, where there’s typically a far better view into the issues eroding trust and preventing an inclusive workplace.
What I saw then, and what I still see now, is incremental progress on the goal of inclusivity. Many organizations are working on closing the pay gap, supporting employees of color, figuring out how to help working parents, and developing policies to create trans-inclusive workplaces. But, when I assess the landscape (and review the data) for transgender employees, I’m concerned.
Trans individuals in the US are twice as likely to be unemployed and, like other marginalized groups, underpaid and under-supported. Moreover, when an individual fits into more than one aspect of diversity, the picture is even more bleak. According to the Human Rights Council (HRC) “trans women, particularly Black and Indigenous trans women, are directly targeted by multiple systems of oppression that compound to create a culture of violence.” Yes, even at work.
Coming out as trans or transitioning at work isn’t an easy process. We’re grateful for this behind-the-scenes look from Julia Kamper, QuickBooks Live lead at Intuit, who shares the struggles, red tape, and outcomes of one woman’s journey.
Representation in the senior ranks is a key to inclusion and finding it in the US Air Force was a nice surprise. For companies who are itching to do better, Liza Smyth, SVP at Formstack, shares five steps for your company to make progress. And we’ve pulled together some of the best research and resources we could find and featured them throughout this email to help thoughtful employers and colleagues create more inclusive communities.
The Human Rights Campaign estimates there are more than 2 million transgender people in the US alone. Perhaps they include one of your niblings (a gender-neutral replacement for niece, nephew, or sibling), a co-worker, or a friend. Their voices may be hard to hear from the edges, so center them until we’ve created more opportunity for workplace belonging, for all employees.
Let’s get to work,
Anna Oakes (she/her)
Editor, Quartz at Work
State of trans-inclusive workplaces
Consider these findings from McKinsey & Co., in its report on being trans in corporate America:
- Transgender adults are twice as likely as cisgender adults to be unemployed.
- Cisgender employees make 32 percent more money a year than transgender employees, even when the latter have similar or higher education levels.
- More than half of transgender employees say they are not comfortable being out at work. Two-thirds remain in the closet in professional interactions outside their own companies.
PFLAG, the first and largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their families, has us covered on a trans-inclusive vocab:
- Gender: A set of socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate .
- Sex (biological): Anatomical, physiological, genetic, or physical attributes that determine if a person is male, female, or intersex..
- Gender identity: A person’s deeply held core sense of self in relation to gender. Gender identity does not always correspond to biological sex.
- Gender expression: The manner in which a person communicates about gender to others through external means such as clothing, appearance, or mannerisms. This communication may be conscious or subconscious and may or may not reflect their gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Sexual orientation: The sexual attraction toward other people or no people. While sexual activity involves the choices one makes regarding behavior, one’s sexual activity does not define one’s sexual orientation.
- Cisgender (pronounced sis-gender): A term used to refer to an individual whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth.
- Gender nonconforming (GNC): An umbrella term for those who do not follow gender stereotypes, or who expand ideas of gender express or gender identity. GNC does NOT mean non-binary and cisgender people can be GNC as well.
- Nonbinary: Refers to people who do not subscribe to the gender binary. They might exist between or beyond the man-woman binary.
- Transition: A term used to refer to the process—social, legal, and/or medical—one goes through to affirm one’s gender identity.
What workplace policies should my company put into place?
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) companies should consider their:
- Anti-discrimination policy
- Dress code policy
- Benefits policies and offerings
- Diversity and inclusion initiatives
- Recruitment and selection processes
BONUS! 3 checklists for avoiding LGBTQ+ discrimination in benefit programs
“At KPMG, we are being more intentional in appreciating intersectionality as we evolve our strategy to attract and retain female talent. Voluntary self-ID disclosures allow us to understand the representation of women with disabilities, military service, and gender identity, including those who identify as transgender women. By disaggregating quantitative data to recognize any trends and looking to have more discussions with women who identify as transgender, we can then better understand their experiences and provide solutions to support their needs.” – Elena Richards, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at KPMG US
A co-workers guide to transitioning
We stumbled on to this co-workers guide to inclusion and although it was created for specifically for people who work at museums, the direction it offers for people in any industry is outstanding. Way to lead, American Alliance of Museums. A few highlights from their manual:
Two simple steps to being an ally:
- Use gender neutral language
- Share your pronouns
Off-limit topics for trans co-workers:
- Genitals—Don’t ask your co-worker about their genitals.
- Medical history—Even for changes you may notice, let your co-worker lead the conversation.
- Gender history—Do not disclose your co-worker gender history to anyone.
- Dating and relationships—Don’t ask them about their relationships.
FYIs for co-workers:
- When should you start calling your co-worker by their new name and pronouns? When they ask you to.
- There is no surgery, procedure, or way to dress that makes someone trans.
- Additionally, you may not be able to see all of the changes occurring with your co-worker.
You got the memo
Send any news and comments (does your company have any share-worthy policies on trans inclusiveness?) to email@example.com.
This week’s edition of The Memo was brought to you by:
💛 Our Quartz at Work editor, Anna Oakes, who won’t stop poking until there’s no need to write these types of newsletters.
🎨 October’s artist-in-residence, Quartz’s own Alex Citrin-Safadi.
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