Supporting your (current and future) trans and nonbinary employees
Supporting your trans and nonbinary employees, in conversation with Cayce Marshall, Head of Pricing at Zellis.
Watch the video below for the highlights and read on for the full interview.
If you’re not sure what all of the terms mean in this interview, feel free to read our article on the definitions used in LGBTQIA+ community first, and come back.
How can employers give a warm welcome to trans employees in their business?
When you’re thinking about how to make trans and nonbinary people feel welcome in your workplace, the first step comes potentially before you even know you have anyone to cater for: and that’s cultivating an environment where people feel safe to come out at work.
That might be very noticeable steps, like educating your workforce about trans people and ensuring you have robust anti-discrimination policies. But equally important is sending the message: “you belong here”.
The first step in making trans and nonbinary people feel welcome in your workplace is cultivating an environment where people feel safe to come out at work.
You can do this by considering whether your internal HR systems are set up for trans and nonbinary colleagues to navigate easily. These are things like:
- When onboarding employees, is there an option to select a preferred name, if the employee has one different to their legal name?
- If a current employee changes their name as part of transition, can it filter through on all systems you use to ensure their deadname (their name prior to transitioning) doesn’t follow them around?
- Is there an option for gender-neutral titles, such as Mx?
- What about displaying pronouns? For example, can you encourage existing colleagues to put them on their email signatures, so that a precedent for sharing pronouns is created?
- Most trans people don’t have a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), so their tax and pension filings need to be in their sex assigned at birth. Do your onboarding systems have a gender field as well, for employees to select their proper gender?
The last thing you want is for your organisation to come across as it’s trying to squeeze your trans employees into a system that already exists, but doesn’t have much (if any) room for them. And it’s exhausting for those employees to have to advocate for themselves in the face of systems that aren’t set up for them and haven’t considered their needs.
By actioning these points above, and most importantly by continuing to talk – and listen – to your trans and nonbinary employees, you’ll give a clear message that you’ve thought about the diversity of your current and future workforce and accommodated for their specific needs.
What are some practical things that employers can do to support trans people in the workplace?
Some practical workplace things that employers can do to help their employees include:
- Providing access to a gender-neutral toilet. Or be bold and make all of your toilets gender neutral!
- Think about your dress code, if you have one – is it gendered? If so, can you provide a gender-neutral dress code, that can be used by anyone?
- Put clear policies and procedures in place to support your trans and nonbinary employees. This could be coming out and transitioning processes, so that your employees don’t have to rely on the decisions of their line manager, but instead both parties have a clear route to follow. This gives every employee the same level of support throughout what can be a very challenging time.
If you could change one thing to make the world better for trans people, what would it be?
It’s hard to choose just one thing, but if you twisted my arm, I would have to say proper access to free healthcare.
At the moment, the waiting list for just the first appointment with a gender identity clinic is about four years, so the majority of trans people end up self-funding their healthcare; even if you’re lucky enough to have private health insurance, it’s very rarely covered.
Having access to healthcare without having to save five-figure sums for it would be life changing for people. Some people wait years for treatment whilst saving for this, and it puts their lives effectively on hold and can be very damaging for their mental health. Having access to proper care in a time-sensitive way would be life-changing – even life-saving – for many people.
Employers could help massively with this by checking any private health insurance or healthcare they provide. If it doesn’t include gender identity healthcare, raise it with your provider. It’s already available through some of the major private health insurers, but employers need to proactively seek it out when defining their plans – and even where it can’t be actioned, the more employers who demonstrate that they want this as part of their cover, the more likely providers will be to consider adding it to their standard product. As an employer who wants to attract and retain trans and nonbinary employees, this could also give you an edge in the recruitment process.
How has the LGBTQIA+ community supported trans people in recent years?
Some people may remember the incident in 2018 where some people at Pride in London, from within the LGBTQIA+ community, effectively hijacked the parade to protest against trans people. It was a horrible moment, and was roundly condemned by both Pride in London and the community at large.
However, that was just eight people. In the following year, in the Pride march, so many groups came together to support trans people – people saying “L with the T”, “B with the T”, and things like that. The message was essentially putting trans people to the front and it was really lovely to see the community come together like that.
And we also saw support from an enormous range of LGBTQIA+ organisations and charities in the UK – for example, when trans people were excluded from the recent ban on conversion therapy, more than a hundred organisations responded by refusing to take part in the government’s “Safe To Be Me” conference, which had been scheduled to be taking place this month, unless the stance was reversed.
So reflected across many queer spaces in the UK, from grassroots to larger organisations, there is solidarity together as a community – including in our own network Moore Visibility, who have really been putting focus on education around trans issues as they plan for the future.
How is the Zellis Group at trans and LGBTQIA+ inclusion?
Over the last year, Zellis have been making a lot of changes in terms of better including LGBTQIA+ people, including trans and nonbinary people, in our organisation. DE&I has been a huge focus for our HR efforts this year. We’ve been improving our systems internally even before then to allow for things like ungendered titles; I also think we’re listening better to our employees than we did, say, three years ago when I joined the organisation.
And because we’re listening, our HR and IT teams now have more education and better processes set up with trans people’s needs in mind – for example, we now have a process for name changes where someone wants to break connections with their previous name, which doesn’t happen by default on most systems.
We’ve now got an LGBTQIA+ group called Moore Visibility, we’re consulting with our LGBTQIA+ employees about new policies, and in June we’re going to be launching a voluntary data collection piece internally. This will help us better understand our organisation’s demographics and how we can work to support the people we have in the company today, plus make it a more welcoming place for others who join in the future.