How can employers best support trans and intersex employees at work?
  • 24th Oct 2017
  • Article written by Louise Purcell
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In August, ACAS produced a research paper concerning how employers can support trans and intersex employees in the workplace. There has previously been little research on the experiences of trans and intersex individuals in the world of work and this paper sought to consider how gender identity is currently managed in the employment sphere and also how it could be improved. Barriers, challenges and suggestions for moving forward were also explored.

The study found that a variety of hurdles exist which prevent better inclusion for trans and intersex staff at present. The greatest obstacle highlighted is lack of knowledge amongst employers. Stemming from this lack of understanding is a lack of confidence for managers in addressing issues and stigma. Training managers and recruiters can provide the skills needed to deal with issues that crop up in a professional yet sympathetic manner.

So what can an employer do to carry out a good practice approach?

One of the recurring responses from individuals interviewed as part of the research process was that experiences are diverse and so, each situation requires a slightly different approach. For example, trans and intersex should be viewed as separate issues, with the former concerning gender identity and the latter being a part of human development. Flexibility is therefore key and policies should be tailored to the particular individual in question. The following suggestions, however, are more general in nature:

  • Disclosure, if any, of trans identity should be the choice of the individual in question.
  • Where the size of an employer’s workforce permits, staff groups representing trans and intersex employees can be beneficial. These can seek better inclusion and provide a confidential support network.
  • Diversity and inclusion training can be helpful not just for those managing employees but also in fostering an inclusive approach amongst fellow employees.

Even though some employers have realised the need to deal with the inclusion of trans and intersex staff over the past few years, this report illustrates that considerable progress is still to be made. However, by taking steps to increase awareness and by implementing inclusive policies, many employers can make changes not only to protect the lives of trans and intersex workers, but also to create a more harmonious and productive workforce overall.