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How Your Enterprise can Create a Trans Inclusive Workplace

Nikky Manfredi

Nikky Manfredi

Communications & Content Specialist

Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility! March 31 is a day to celebrate the lives of trans people and their contributions to society, while continuing to take action against the discrimination trans people face every day. A little history: the day was founded by US transgender activist, Rachel Crandall, in 2009, in response to the lack of mainstream representation of trans people as whole, joyful and contributing members of society. 

It’s important to note, as trans activists have, that increased visibility for trans people is complex and can often be accompanied by increased risk to personal safety due to ongoing stigma, discrimination and violence, including workplace harassment. It’s a good reminder for allies who choose to take part in the celebration, to also choose to be part of the everyday struggle and solution — and that includes at work.

That’s why, today, we’re profiling CSI member, Pride at Work Canada, about how organizations can create trans inclusive workplaces. Their report, included below, is the first of its kind in Canada; it shows “how organizations can invest in building a future where all people, including all trans and gender non-conforming individuals, have safe and affirming workplaces.” We think that’s something worth celebrating.  

Pride At Work Canada

Through education, conversation, and thought leadership, Pride at Work Canada empowers Canadian employers to create safer and more inclusive workplaces that recognize the skills and contributions of LGBTQ2+ people. They do this through workshops, networking events, and other member-based services. 

In 2019, Pride at Work Canada partnered with the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management to complete the first Canadian study focused on workplace policies and practices for supporting trans and gender non-conforming people. They surveyed 69 major Canadian employers within the Pride at Work Canada network to get a sense of where progress was being made and where organizations were falling short. 

If you’re a social enterprise, nonprofit or business of any kind, check out the report here. It’s a ready-to-use resource to see where your policies stand and how you can improve. 

What does workplace inclusion look like? 

The word “inclusion” is a popular one and ideas around what it means and how you get there differ. The report makes a helpful distinction by classifying workplace policies into basic accommodations and fully inclusive practices

Providing an all-genders washroom, identifying your pronouns in your email signature, and adopting more inclusive language are examples of basic accommodations. Full inclusion often means changing workplace culture and starts from the top-down. 

According to the study, basic accommodations look like: 

  • Policy on non-discrimination protections 
  • Protocols with assisting employees with transitioning 
  • Protocols for changing to names and identity markers 
  • Health coverage for medically necessary care 
  • Gender-inclusive facilities, forms, and dress codes
  • Privacy protections for data collection 
  • Harassment and complaints policies 

According to the study, fully inclusive practices look like: 

  • Executive leadership support
  • Employee training on gender identity and gender expression
  • Inclusive recruiting practices
  • Onboarding training on gender identity
  • Employee resource groups
  • Targeted mentorship and allyship
  • Diversity and inclusion managers with a trans inclusion mandate
  • Networking with community organizations to develop insight and expertise
Moving Beyond Accommodation to Inclusion 

While large organizations are increasingly adopting basic accommodations to comply with legal obligations (the study found 62% of surveyed organizations have policies for non-discrimination protections, for example), we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to full inclusion (only 22% have senior executive leadership focused on trans inclusion). 

As the report points out, “accommodation efforts are good place to begin for an organization starting to think about their gender-diverse employees, but they may not adequately address the stigma about what it means to be a person who is trans or to counteract stereotypes about how ‘men’ and ‘women’ ought to look. This stigma impacts everything from workplace culture to the hiring pipeline.”

So, here’s how you can celebrate International Trans Day of Visibility: 

  1. Take a fifteen minute break and read the report.
  2. Choose a basic accommodation you will act on today (and commit to bringing forward at work). 
  3. Start planning how your organization can adopt the other recommendations to become fully inclusive. 

Happy International Trans Day of Visibility! 

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