Diversity & Inclusion: Helping Employees Through Gender Transition

Diversity & Inclusion: Helping Employees Through Gender TransitionThe market research consultancy Ipsos recently published a study that revealed 70% of people around the world believe their government needs to protect transgender people from discrimination.

In this same supportive spirit, employment law regarding transgender employees finds itself rapidly evolving. Many United States companies for example are bolstering their diversity efforts and policies to include transgender status. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “325 Fortune 500 companies now prohibit discrimination based on gender identification, compared to just three in 2000, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a leading LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) advocacy group. Also, there’s been a tenfold increase in the number of major corporations that offer transgender-inclusive health care coverage: 418 in 2015 compared with 49 in 2009.”

Employers looking to help employees through their transition can prevent legal challenges by having diversity policies reviewed and updated before any transition is announced. One fundamental is to know in advance how, and who, will inform other members of the team (including management) of the transition. Which pronouns to use and which restroom the employee will use are examples of other practical issues that should be addressed proactively. This technology sector case study offers helpful examples of transition policy guidelines, and The Transgender Law Center offers similar information with detailed transition plans.

International laws protecting transgender employees

The Yogyakarta Principles address a broad range of international human rights standards and their application to SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) issues. On November 10, 2017 a panel of experts published additional principles expanding on the original document reflecting developments in international human rights law and practice since the 2006 Principles. Those are called the Yogyakarta Principles plus 10. The new document also contains 111 ‘additional state obligations’, related to areas such as torture, asylum, privacy, health and the protection of human rights defenders. The full text of the Yogyakarta Principles and the Yogyakarta Principles plus 10 are available at yogyakartaprinciples.org.

The Human Rights Campaign has more information about international transgender protection.