On February 22, 2017 the Trump administration announced that it would rescind guidance that came under former President Obama instructing government-funded schools to allow transgender students access to bathroom and other facilities that aligned with their gender identity.
While this does not directly alter schools’ existing policies, LGBT rights advocates consider it a blow to the advancements that have been made.
With these issues at the forefront of the national conversation, now is a good to time to review your policy regarding gender identity in the workplace. The statistics on the subject are startling: According to a 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 30% of respondents who had a job in the past year reported being fired, denied a promotion, or experiencing some other form of mistreatment related to their gender identity or expression.
77% claimed to have taken steps to avoid mistreatment in the workplace, such as hiding or delaying their gender transition or quitting their job.
The Department of Labor has published guidelines for handling gender identity issues in the workplace, which you can read here. Below are simple steps you can take to ensure your workplace is inclusive and not at risk for discrimination.
Establish guidelines prohibiting bias
Ensure your employee handbook has a clear policy prohibiting bullying, harassment, and discrimination of any kind.
Set clear bathroom and/or locker room usage guidelines
OSHA has issued a Best Practices Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers. The core principle states “All employees, including transgender employees, should have access to restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.”
Other suitable options include: “single-occupancy gender-neutral facilities,” and use of “multiple-occupant, gender-neutral facilities with lockable single occupant stalls.” The same guidelines apply to workplaces with locker room facilities.
Lead by example
Set the tone for conduct by treating the person with respect and dignity. Respect their privacy. Train employees to do the same.
Address transgender employees by the preferred name
Respect the name a transgender person is using. Use the individual’s preferred pronoun when addressing them. Update personnel records, including internal and external directories, email addresses, and business cards to note the preferred name.
Most importantly: Address claims of misconduct promptly.
Additionally, SHRM recommends that HR professionals review the following policies:
- Dress code: Avoid gender stereotypes, such as stating that men must wear dress trousers and women must wear skirts. Do not apply dress codes to off-duty conduct. Consider adding a provision that workers may dress in accordance with their full-time gender expression.
- Benefits policies and offerings: Do not deny benefits on the basis of gender identity or expression. Transgender workers’ spouses, domestic partners, children and step-children should be treated in accordance with applicable laws, and they should be offered the same benefits as those offered to family members of similarly situated non-transgender workers.
- Diversity and inclusion initiatives: Make certain that transgender workers are included in the organization’s affinity groups, local outreach efforts, internal programming and related training.
- Recruitment and selection processes: Review processes for possible disparate impact or treatment of transgender workers. Educate recruitment teams, contact outreach organizations and conduct anti-discrimination analysis as needed.