Updated: Oct 13
1.6% of the general US population identifies as transgender or non-binary (TNB), but the percentage jumps to 5% for those under 30 (Branigin, 2022). This means that your organization will increasingly be hiring these individuals and must consider the best policies and practices to support them.
Before considering how to create these inclusive environments best, providing background information and definitions related to these populations is essential.
Gender identity: A deeply felt psychological sense a person has regarding their gender. Such a sense may or may not align with a person’s sex assigned at birth.
Transgender, or trans: an umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from the sex assigned to them at birth.
Non-binary: an identity held by those individuals who do not identify as a man or a woman. While many also identify as transgender, not all non-binary people do. Non-binary can also be used as an umbrella term, including identities such as agender, bigender, genderqueer, or gender fluid.
Gender non-conforming: an umbrella term referring to people who do not identify in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. Some, but not all, gender non-conforming people identify as transgender.
Why do TNB employees need your support?
Individuals who identify with these labels are disproportionately affected by harassment and discrimination compared to their cisgender or gender-conforming counterparts.
One study estimates that as many as 90% of transgender participants face harassment or mistreatment at work (Grant et al., 2011).
Another study estimates that 25% of trans individuals have been terminated or face significant wage disparities due to their gender identity (Jones, 2020).
Not surprisingly, a recent study of over 25,000 trans individuals found that 77% of those who worked in the previous year made some effort to conceal their identity at work to avoid mistreatment. This included steps such as delaying a physical transition, refraining from asking coworkers to use their correct pronouns, and even quitting their job (James et al., 2016).
Research has shown that efforts to conceal one’s gender identity can lead to adverse workplace outcomes, including lessened job satisfaction and lower perceived organizational fit (Martinez et al., 2017).
What can you or your organization do to help?
To counteract these adverse outcomes, organizations must provide safe spaces that allow these individuals to stay in their positions and thrive as their most authentic selves. There are several ways that organizations can take actionable steps to create such spaces:
Create inclusive policies around dress codes, bathroom usage, and health care benefits usage.
Gender-neutral dress codes can be helpful in destigmatizing gender non-conformity in expressions of gender at work.
Gender-neutral bathrooms and education for other employees on how to be accepting if one interacts with a trans coworker in the bathroom are essential steps to make trans and non-binary individuals more comfortable.
Providing health care benefits that cover the cost of physical transition can send a clear message to your trans employees that the organization is supportive. Further, it is crucial to ask a transitioning employee what they need in terms of support during their transition.
Be attentive to the appropriate name and pronouns for all employees.
Misgendering is a common way trans and non-binary people experience bias at work. Organizations can lessen the likelihood of these instances by creating norms around sharing pronouns for all employees, including recommending pronouns in one’s email signature or Zoom username and when one is introducing themselves for the first time.
For more information on using inclusive language, visit our blog post here!
Work with a DEI team to design and deliver diversity training around trans and non-binary inclusivity.
An important aspect of any DEI initiative is appropriate training and education for your leadership and employees. This training can provide insight into the importance of the inclusive practices mentioned above as well as provide clear direction on how to best support one’s trans and non-binary colleagues.
Reach out to Mattingly now to schedule a free consultation!
For more information, see our blog on how DEI can reduce gender-based discrimination based on gender expression here.
If you want to know more about how you can better your workplace by creating a more inclusive environment, contact Mattingly Solutions here. We are always here to support and propel your DEI efforts forward!
Abbey Salvas is an IO & DEI Consulting Assistant at Mattingly Solutions and a PhD candidate at George Washington University. Learn more about and connect with them here.