In a recent landmark decision, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel determined that the U.S. Army discriminated against a veteran who had transitioned from male to female. In July, the President signed an executive order against discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees of the federal government. According to the Human Rights Campaign, as of April 2013, 88% of the Fortune 500 companies had implemented non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, and 57% had policies that include gender identity.
Transgender and gender neutral rights are protected under various employment regulations including the EEOC. Hiring practices and workplace discrimination are being widely scrutinized. Has your organization adopted a non-disrimination policy? Have you considered the hiring challenges that could be discriminating?
One of the first things to consider about transgender hiring practices are the identifiers on job applications and other office paperwork. With the question of gender, the choices are "male" and "female." Does an application, because it does not have an area for "other" or "non-gender specific", automatically discriminate against those who don't identify as either male or female? These individuals may have lots to offer a company but they may have the biggest hurdle to conquer when they are filling out their applicant paperwork.
If an individual does not identify as male or female, there may be a challenge with obtaining the correct background screening. If there is male that is a hardened criminal and a female that is a dependable job seeker and they both have the same name, a gender identifier may be one of a few traits used to ensure that the correct person is being screened for your company. Many who have transitioned from one gender to another may have also changed their name. This is another reason why it is very important to obtain as much information as possible, and as accurately as possible, when screening an applicant.
No one wants to be discriminated against and no one should have to bear that burden. How do you communicate this to your staff? What type of resources should be made available to transgender individuals in your work environment? A transgender individual will expect to use a restroom that corresponds to their gender identity. Some employees may not feel comfortable with this. Perhaps you could add a gender neutral restroom. Is there a dress code that would discriminate against those individuals who identify as gender neutral or as their transitional gender?
How can you, as a human resources representative, develop diversity training for your employees? These are all things to consider.
Another consideration to be addressed is the issue of transition-related healthcare. Transgender individuals may have healthcare needs which go beyond the scope of what your healthcare provider currently offers. Have you examined your benefits to see how they can accommodate these employees?
You may have never had to deal with the idea of transgender hiring practices before but your company should not fall asleep at the wheel. You need to face these issues head on and that means getting all the answers you can, before you run into an issue.