Workplace diversity is a deep commitment at Integrity. As both a staffing industry leader and minority-owned business, we've had a unique opportunity to prove that character values like work ethic and team spirit are what make a successful employee, not vital statistics like ethnicity or gender.
The rights of transgender individuals are gaining broader acceptance in our society (and in the law courts). Smart businesses are keeping pace with steps to ensure that these employees are welcomed and protected from discrimination just like any other minority.
Here are our top tips for making it happen.
Put the policy in writing.
You probably have a discrimination policy already, so it's simple to add transgender people to the handbook and sexual harassment training. There should also be procedures established for people already in your employment who decide to transition: leave benefits, name changes, a designated point person to manage the process and so on.
Let them do the telling.
Transgender employees should decide when and how to communicate this information to co-workers: face-to-face or by email, in private conversations or to the whole team at once. It is not the supervisor's or HR's place to "out" them without their permission.
Make a restroom plan.
This is the biggest hot button you're likely to encounter. Ideally, you have enough restrooms that one could be designated gender-neutral. If that's not feasible, most companies say that individuals should use the restroom of the gender they identify with.
Watch out for harassment.
Of course, major discriminatory actions such as the denial of employment or promotion will be covered in your policy. But also be alert for subtle behaviors such as co-workers refusing to use the individual's "new" name or pronoun or leaving him/her out of team activities. And be aware that LGBT workers are legally protected from objections on religious grounds.
It's been demonstrated time and again that the diverse workplace is more innovative, productive and profitable than the homogenous one. With a little care and consideration, any business can achieve this goal ... and reap the rewards.