Why Transgender Inclusion Is Good for Business
BY Vanessa Sheridan
November 19 2013 6:00 AM ET
While Congress continues pondering the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, business leaders are brokering the reality of a fully LGBT-inclusive workplace. Supporting employees in their efforts to be authentic, it turns out, actually improves the bottom line.
As a leading consultant directing professional trainings around trans-inclusive business practices, this writer has seen firsthand the positive effect that ripples through a company when it supports an employee's desire to transition. But the numbers also speak for themselves.
In 2000 only three Fortune 500 companies included gender identity in employment nondiscrimination policies. Today, those policies have reached nearly 60 percent of the Fortune 500. All the while, more states and municipalities are passing laws that protect the rights of transgender workers.
These changes and the relatively brief time period in which they’re occurring indicate a rapidly growing awareness of transgender identities and issues throughout society and, certainly, within Corporate America. That's because the business case for transgender inclusion is solid.
Companies don’t usually become transgender-inclusive out of a desire to be altruistic: They do so because they realize it’s a smart business decision that can ultimately augment the bottom line in any number of ways.
For starters, transgender inclusion can help with recruiting and retention efforts. Many Gen X and Millennial employees, in particular, expect to come to work in an inclusive, diverse environment. For this reason, organizations that discriminate based on gender identity and gender expression may find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.
Many of today’s most successful businesses are recognizing the value of transgender workers as an integral aspect of larger corporate diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives. Human resources and diversity professionals are learning that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be trans-inclusive; instead, a meaningful transgender component can readily be integrated into an existing D&I program. Organizations are also discovering that transgender issues come with nuances that require specific awareness and necessitate new changes to achieve an inclusive workplace.
On the following pages, find two prominent examples from this writer's consulting experience that are considered case studies for success.