Best Practices for Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace

  • Equality & Diversity
Olivia Cicchini

Olivia Cicchini, Employment Law Expert

(Last updated )

The International Transgender Day of Visibility is on March 31. It is observed to celebrate trans people and spread awareness about the discrimination they face every day.

Despite gender identity and gender expression being protected grounds under the Canadian Human Rights Act, research finds that trans people continue to experience stigma and exclusion in society. This also includes workplaces. Pride at Work Canada found that just 14% of businesses consider LGBTQ2+ inclusion knowledge necessary for managerial roles.

But such lack of awareness could lead to direct and indirect discrimination. This is harmful for your company culture and may also expose you to legal claims.

What does it mean to be transgender?

People whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth are transgender. They may choose to express their gender identity in different ways. For instance, some people may dress and behave as the gender that feels true to them. While others may decide to change their body (through hormone therapy or surgery) to match their internal gender identity.

How can I create a trans inclusive workplace?

As an employer, you can create an inclusive workplace by establishing fair policies:

Review your hiring process

When you create job advertisements, ensure the wording is inclusive and gender neutral. State clearly that you are an equal opportunities employer who encourages diverse candidates to apply.

Provide workplace training on diversity and inclusion

It is important that your non-trans or cisgender employees understand diversity of gender identities and expression. This knowledge will help them handle workplace conversations with transgender colleagues sensitively. An understanding of the correct terminology and history of the transgender community will also encourage cisgender staff to support workplace inclusion initiatives.

Provide gender-neutral washrooms

Gender-neutral or gender-inclusive washrooms and changing spaces are facilities that can be used by a person of any gender. This is another way you can create a safe and welcoming environment for your transgender employees.

Respect pronouns

It is best to clarify what pronouns a transgender employee prefers. Some people, usually non-binary (people who don’t identify with any gender), may prefer gender-neutral pronouns, such as ey, em, and eirs. A good practice is to encourage your cisgender staff to also share their pronouns in their email signature or LinkedIn profile. This creates awareness about the importance of addressing trans and non-binary people with their correct pronouns.

Update your discrimination and harassment policy

Ensure you have an updated policy on workplace discrimination and harassment. Keep in mind that gender identity and gender expression are protected human rights categories under Canadian law. Also, specify the disciplinary actions you’ll take in the event of a violation of the aforementioned policy.

Avoid gender-specific dress codes

Ensure your workplace dress code policy does not reinforce gender stereotypes. The dress code must be consistently applicable to all staff. You should also include procedures for addressing dress code-related accommodations in your policy. Any uniform or dress requirements implemented must be genuinely required for the work. Read our blog for more information on how gender-specific dress codes are harmful.

Get staff feedback

Employee feedback is crucial to understand whether your policies are working. It also helps identify areas for improvement. Anonymous staff surveys and exit interviews are good ways to gather meaningful employee feedback.

Do you need help creating inclusive policies for your workplace?

Our experts can help you create company policies and assist you with any HR managementhealth & safety, and employment advice you may need. If you’d like to update your policies to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace, our experts are here to help you write these as well and update your company handbooks to reflect any changes.

To learn more about how our services can benefit your business, call an expert today at 1 (833) 247-3652

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