Scroll To Top
Voices

'Strive for Five' to foster inclusivity at work

Love is the message crowd balloons Intuit author Tanner Arnold came out at work as a trans man
Courtesy Intuit

Coming out at work can be a pivotal moment for transgender individuals. While workplace policies and accommodations are crucial, more can be done. Intuit's Tanner Arnold describes how we can all strive for inclusivity and support for our trans colleagues.

I came out at work as a trans man five years ago. Workplace policies and accommodations for trans employees, including name changes on essential documents and payroll, were critical to my experience. Despite all this progress, though, we still have work to do.

A recent study showed that58% of transgender or gender nonconforming individuals attempt to hide their gender identity at work. More than1 in 10 have been fired, forced to resign, lost a job, or been laid off because of their gender identity and expression. And when the National Center for Transgender Equality launched itsU.S. Transgender Survey — the first study of its kind — it found that 77% of trans workers took steps to avoid workplace mistreatment, such as hiding their transition or quitting their job.

Policies alone don't create a company's culture. That sense of safety and belonging has to come from the individuals within the organization. We all play a critical role in creating an inclusive and belonging environment in our workplaces.

happy smiling person transgender flag never march alone sign attending lgbtq pride eventCourtesy Intuit

I believe everyone has room to grow as they work on being more inclusive. For example, when I was transitioning, my team instituted the "Strive for Five" policy a few years ago.

The "Strive for Five" framework uses a five-point scale that helps people take stock of their everyday interactions with trans colleagues. If you occasionally use the wrong name or pronoun, you score yourself a two or three out of five. You don't have to apologize for these mistakes; you can say you'll "strive for five" in the next interaction. You can score yourself a four when consistently using the correct names and pronouns with friends and colleagues. When you take this support outside of friends, family, and colleagues and advocate for trans people in public, you'll reach five.

The idea behind Strive for Five is to get team members to engage with and reflect on their interactions consciously. By taking a similar, thoughtful approach to your interactions with trans people, you'll find that any moment can foster inclusivity and be a learning opportunity.

While actions speak louder than words, culture shifts in the workplace sometimes start with simple conversations. For example, asking your trans colleagues, "What's the best way for me to support you?" is often a great place to start.

happy smiling colorful people attending lgbtq pride eventCourtesy Intuit

You can also use everyday interactions as your classroom. Listen for ways to break down "us vs. them" dynamics that sometimes frame discussions of trans people. It can have an incredible impact. For example, suppose someone makes disparaging remarks about trans people when there isn't a trans person around to hear it. In that case, you can speak up against that bias and quickly turn the tide of the conversation. This vocal support can help your trans colleagues — out or otherwise — feel less alone.

In addition to individual action, examine how your company can back up its policies with concrete experiences and actions, and look for opportunities to get involved in groups supporting trans colleagues. While building an inclusive culture inside the company, you can look outside for incredible organizations supporting trans and nonbinary team members navigating non-work spaces and resources to deepen your understanding. My favorite national agency, theNational Center for Transgender Equity (NCTE), offers an array of resources to help understand transgender issues, along with resources to help trans people navigate transitioning and knowing their rights.

NCTE also provides a clearinghouse of local and regional organizations that offer support closer to home. For instance, NCTE helped me find the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance, which provides services and support to trans and gender nonconforming people where I live in Tucson.

No matter your age or experience with the trans community, you can remain open, engaged, and educated. By actively listening to your transgender colleagues, seeking to understand their perspectives or concerns, and being mindful of your words and actions, you can learn how to foster a more inclusive and positive environment where all feel they belong.

Tanner Arnold (he/him) has been with Intuit for 19 years. He is a Tax Compliance Leader with QuickBooks Payroll, and a founding member of Intuit's Transgender Advisory Board.

Voices is dedicated to featuring a wide range of inspiring personal stories and impactful opinions from the LGBTQ+ and Allied community. Visit Advocate.com/submit to learn more about submission guidelines. We welcome your thoughts and feedback on any of our stories. Email us at voices@equalpride.com. Views expressed in Voices stories are those of the guest writers, columnists and editors, and do not directly represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Tanner Arnold