The Unicorn HRO Blog

Best Practices for Transgender Rights at Your Company

Posted Tuesday, August 09, 2016 by Unicorn HRO

In this ever-changing world, employers and HR staff should be aware of the needs of their employees regardless of their race, color, creed, sexual orientation, or gender identification.  With newly introduced legislation regarding the rights of transgendered employees, HR staff needs to be up-to-date with what rules they need to follow in order to be in compliance with the law, as well as to ensure a better working environment.  This article examines the “best practices” to implement when managing your company’s policies with regard to transgender or transitioning employees.

Establish Guidelines

The guidelines for your company should spell out clear procedures for employing transgender individuals.  In order to prevent workplace discrimination, it is necessary to include “gender identity” in the list of categories which make up the company’s non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.  HR staff should select who is in charge of facilitating a successful workplace transition for the employee in question, and effectively demonstrate that the company supports the employee in his or her transition. 

Educate Your Employees

In order to avoid misunderstandings, it is important for HR staff to inform employees as well as clients of an employee’s transition, and educate them on the terminology appropriate for addressing the employee or any related issues.  HR staff should first ensure that they speak to the transitioning employee to determine if, how, and when they would like their work colleagues to be informed. Information regarding the transition can be shared with staff via intranet in the company’s HR section, or in its LGBTQ section.  In order to show company support, many employers have assigned a senior member of staff to sponsor the employee, this member is tasked with setting the expectations of staff moving forward.  The sponsor can also communicate messages to employees informing them of the importance of inclusivity and provide educational materials to help all staff understand transgender rights and the transitioning process.

Provide Adequate Facilities and Services

HR staff should also be aware of the need to update payroll, personnel, and administrative records if the employee in question is in the process of transition.  It is also important to put in place a policy on restroom use so that transgendered employees have reasonable access to the company’s facilities.  Some companies have opted to offer single occupancy, gender neutral restrooms to employees while they are in transition, although this must only be considered a temporary measure, and once transitioned the employee has a right to use the restroom for the gender with which he or she identifies.  In order to avoid any unnecessary conflict, many companies have adopted gender neutral dress codes for all employees which avoid any gender stereotypes.

By keeping up-to-date and issuing guidelines which include gender identity to protect the rights of transgendered or transitioning employees, your company should be able to create an environment in which all of your employees understand how to interact with one another. This will help them to feel valued and respected, ensuring that they can move forward together to achieve company goals.

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