How to create a trans-inclusive company

Sam Marshall, co-founder of Be Trans Aware, a diversity training organization, explains how businesses can support transgender workers.
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Many of the estimated 2 million transgender people in the US face discrimination at work. More than half of transgender employees say they're not comfortable being open about their gender in the workplace – and two-thirds stay in the closet in professional interactions outside of their own companies, according to a recent study. Here, Sam Marshall, co-founder of Be Trans Aware, shares how to improve the workplace for trans people. 

1. Get educated.

Bring in speakers or organizations who can deliver workshops on trans inclusion. Online training courses like High Speed Training are relatively inexpensive and take only an hour or so to complete, but these won't be personalized to your business. ‘At the end of our training course, we bring on a [panel] of transgender people to support with any specific questions,’ says Sam. Your local LGBTQ+ organization should have a ton of resources to help you out.

2. Fly the flag.

Displaying the pale blue, pale pink and white colors of the transgender flag has a big impact – whether on a flagpole, window sticker or on your website. ‘That flag is one that a trans person would spot at a thousand paces,’ says Sam, ‘When I see a rainbow, I know that place is for me.’ On Google Business, you can also mark your website as a transgender-safe space or as LGBTQ-friendly. Having a diversity and inclusion statement or a policy statement on your website is also something that potential customers and job applicants will look at – as well as the levels of representation in your marketing and website images.

3. Get the language right.

‘Seeing that you're using pronouns is vital for the community,’ says Sam. If someone who's transgender needs to put their pronouns in their email signature or wear a pronoun badge because people keep misgendering them, it makes them stand out. ‘If it's normalized that the whole company is using pronouns, then they feel welcome,’ says Sam. Check that your language isn't gendered across registration forms, newsletter sign-ups or surveys.

For team members who are slow to pick up the habit, try supporting them – not attacking them. Sam suggests a disarming sentence to help bring people around: ‘We have gender-diverse people working here. Keri [Be Trans Aware's other co-founder] uses they/them pronouns. It's something we support as a business because we want to be inclusive, and we want a happy team.’

A version of this article was published in the Courier Weekly newsletter. For more useful stories, tips, tricks and simply good advice, sign up here.

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