New Research on Supporting Trans and Intersex Employees in the Workplace

By EachOther Reporter, 30 Aug 2017

New research which hopes to improve the experience of trans and intersex employees has been published, with the paper also exploring the issues workers may currently face.

Although general understanding of trans issues is improving, only 20% of Stonewall’s Top 100 employers have trans-specific guidelines and policies, and 60% of trans employees have experienced workplace discrimination.

There have also been many reports of trans or intersex people facing negative treatment and aggression while searching for work, but there’s been very little research carried out. ACAS, the body which is responsible for promoting good employment practices in the UK, published the new, ‘Supporting Trans Employees in the Workplace’ earlier this month, marking a welcome development in the area.

So what’s the paper about?

ACAS produced the research paper to explore how gender identity is managed in workplaces, and to propose ways it could be improved.

They interviewed trans and intersex employees, employers and other stakeholders. Due to a lack of evidence regarding intersexuality in the workplace, the paper is mainly focused trans issues.

What should employers be doing?

The paper highlights several ways in which some employers are already displaying good practice. These include:

  • Having written policies which make specific reference to trans employees, highlighting the best practice to deal with employees who transition after starting at that particular workplace, and also by supporting trans individuals throughout recruitment, training and development.
  • Making recruitment trans inclusive, for example by containing inclusivity statements, and getting involved in recruitment through the trans community.
  • Providing support for employees coming out by offering additional guidance so they won’t be disadvantaged in the workplace.
  • Ensuring confidentiality in handling personal data, to avoid an employee being outed against their wishes.
  • Providing Diversity Training to improve understanding of trans issues, through workshops, e-learning modules, conferences and discussions.

So, what next?

Although the research paper highlights the ways some employers are currently engaging in good practice, it stresses that there is still great room for improvement. Transphobia and prejudice can, the report says, still be a daily experience in UK workplaces.

The main obstacles to progress include persistent stigma surrounding trans issues, insufficient confidence in managers, and practical issues which create a binary gender divide, such as uniforms and toilets.

Finally, whilst many ‘good practice’ employers had trans-inclusive policies, very few had any specific provisions for supporting intersex employees, and others revealed confusion regarding the difference between being transgender and intersexual.

The ACAS report concludes that although much work has to be done to improve awareness and understanding amongst employers, employees and the wider public of what it might mean to be trans or intersex, there’s still a long way to go. ‘Bullying, negative treatment, misinformation, and ignorance are’, the paper states, ‘still major issues in the workplace and have a serious negative effect on the inclusion, well-being and lives of trans workers.’

The ACAS report highlights how this is an area in need of much further research and awareness, but this report is a good start.