Inclusivity in the workplace: Supporting transgender colleagues


Navigating the workplace can be a challenging experience for anyone, but for employees undergoing a gender transition, those challenges can be magnified if they aren’t met with the right support. In the modern workplace, where diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of organisational priorities, supporting transitioning employees is not just best practice but a smart business decision.

From fostering a culture of acceptance to implementing practical policies and providing proper resources, there are a number of ways employers can create an environment where transitioning employees feel respected, supported, and empowered to thrive professionally. Explore the importance of supporting transitioning employees in the workplace and the actionable strategies your organisation can implement to create an inclusive and supporting environment for all members of your workforce.

What does transgender mean?

Transgender, often shortened to trans, is an adjective used to describe someone whose gender identity is different from the gender they were thought to be when they were born.

When a person begins to live according to their gender identity, rather than the gender they were thought to be when they were born, this period of change is called gender transition. This period looks different for everyone and may include changes in appearance through clothing and hair and changes in preferred name or the pronoun people use to refer to them (like “she”, “he”, or “they”).

Key actions to creating an inclusive workplace

According to Stonewall's LGBT in Britain Work Report, more than a third, or 35%, of surveyed LGBTQ+ staff have hidden or disguised that they are LGBTQ+ at work in the last year for fear of being discriminated against [1]. Below are some key initiatives to kickstart creating an inclusive workplace.

Speak up for inclusion

Speaking up for trans equality can help trans employees feel supported and valued in the workplace. Employees may have been recruited from less accepting workplaces or feel uncertain about being out at work. Vocal support can encourage these employees to feel comfortable, and feel valued.

Share messages of support for trans inclusion in your workplace communications. Consider using your workplace intranet page, or similar hubs that are accessible to all staff. Consistent messages and information can encourage cis (cis-gender refers to those who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth) staff to step forward as trans allies. It can also show the importance of trans inclusion to your workplace culture. If you’re unsure about what terms to use, you can find out list of LGBTQ+ terms here.

Review policies for inclusivity

Making your policies more inclusive can help clarify what support is available for trans employees. Trans staff may not be aware of how to access certain types of support, or what is applicable to them. For example, how to request that their name is changed on their email address, or what family leave they may be entitled to.

Updating and reviewing policies to be more trans inclusive should be a proactive exercise. Trans staff may not feel confident to ask what benefits are available to them. Having this written down means staff who aren’t out in the workplace can understand and utilise support available to them without having to out themselves to do so. By ensuring your policies are up to date, you can help provide long-term support directly to your employees.

Here are some key policies to consider reviewing regarding trans inclusion:

Bullying & harassment policy

A clear policy that includes what transphobic behaviour is, practical examples and how to report incidents can be beneficial to trans employees and managers in your workplace. This could prevent a trans employee from having to explain why a potential incident may have been harmful or having to out themselves unnecessarily.

Transitioning at work policy

A transitioning at work policy is guidance for trans employees who wish to transition at work. This can include clear action plans that line managers can utilise, and further guidance for HR staff. This policy can include practical steps to take within your organisation. For example, how to change email addresses for a member of staff or update a workplace ID card.

Family leave policy

These may include policies such as: maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental leave and special leave. We would recommend expanding on gendered language and defining key terms like partner so that LGBTQ+ people of all genders know that they can access the policies that are relevant to them.

Provide supportive resources

Offer resources and support networks specifically tailored to meet the needs of transgender employees. This may include access to mental health services, support groups, or employee resource groups focused on LGBTQ+ inclusion. Create a safe space where transgender individuals can seek guidance, share experiences, and connect with peers who understand their unique challenges. By providing these resources, you empower all employees to thrive both personally and professionally.

Continual evaluation and improvement

Finally, fostering transgender inclusion is an ongoing journey that requires continuous evaluation and improvement. Soliciting feedback from employees, particularly transgender individuals, allows organisations to identify areas for enhancement and refine existing initiatives. By prioritising transparency and accountability, organisations demonstrate a steadfast commitment to creating an inclusive workplace for all.

By cultivating a culture of acceptance, revising policies, providing inclusive facilities, offering supporting resources, and committing to continual improvement, organisations can create environments where all employees feel respected, supported, and empowered to thrive personally and professionally. Together, we can navigate the workplace landscape with empathy, compassion, and a steadfast dedication to inclusion.

Works Cited

1. LGBT in Britain Work Report, authored by Chaka L. Bachmann (Stonewall) & Becca Gooch (YouGov),

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