A survey by recruitment website TotalJobs reveals more transgender employees are hiding their identities at work. What are the implications for duty of care in home and host countries?
Building trans-inclusive workplaces
The TotalJobs survey of 410 trans people showed two-thirds (65%) continue to hide or disguise their gender identity at work, compared to half (52%) in 2016. There are warnings that without supportive policies, practices and culture for transgender people, employers could find themselves in breach of their duty of care.
Disclosing gender identity at work
There are many reasons why trans people decide not to disclose their gender identity at work. Four in ten respondents remain worried about the reaction of co-workers – the same proportion as people who feel acceptance in the workplace has improved in the last five years. People who are trans also report experiencing more obstacles to both gaining employment and progressing their careers.
International mobility for transgender people
In the context of gaining global experience and international assignments, people who are trans also face more challenges than most. This matters on many levels. Not only for embedding diversity, equity and inclusive practices and supporting cultures, but also from a talent retention and a legal standpoint. According to the latest ILGA Trans Legal Mapping Report, published in 2020 by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association – a worldwide federation of over 1,700 organisations from more than 160 countries that campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex human rights – there are 13 countries where trans people are explicitly criminalised: Brunei, the Gambia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malawi, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, South Sudan, Tonga, and the United Arab Emirates.
Enforcing the legal rights of trans people at work
In the UK, every transgender employee is protected under the Equality Act 2010.
People who are trans may have additional protection if they have received a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).
“Harassment based on gender identity and expression can take many forms in the workplace, including inappropriate comments or questioning, teasing, isolation, bullying, and other forms of verbal abuse,” says Kate Palmer, HR and Advisory Director at Peninsula.
How to support trans people at work
As Generation Z enters the workplace, how gender is expressed is likely to become more diverse. A recent Gallup poll from the US predicts that the proportion of people identifying as transgender or gender-fluid is likely to increase with each generation. The US study found that 1.8% of Gen Z identify as transgender, the highest percentage of all living generations. This compares to 1.2% of Millennials and 0.2% of both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.
In the UK, the national transgender charity, Sparkle, offers a five-point plan for employers looking to do more for transgender employees as part of the TotalJobs survey.
Sparkle’s advice for employers:
- Train your staff.
- Don’t expect trans people to educate others.
- Start with managers and leaders of the business.
- Get everyone involved.
- Start a conversation.