9 Companies That Advocate For Their Transgender Employees and the Community at Large

These companies know that the power of innovation comes only with diversity, representation, and a full spectrum of policies that cultivate inclusiveness.

Highly innovative companies know that they are only as successful as their individual employees. In unwelcoming environments, employee engagement suffers by up to 30 percent, creating long-term problems for retention and productivity.

 

For transgender employees, this lost sense of workplace value happens more often than not. More than 75 percent of transgender people experience some form of workplace discrimination in their life and 1 in 4 trans people have reported losing a job due to bias. In more than half the country, there are no explicit statewide laws that protect people seeking employment from discrimination or in the workplace on the basis of gender identity, making transgender employees a particularly vulnerable group. This hostility has an outsized impact – the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 48% of all transgender adults surveyed have said that they have considered suicide in the past 12 months, compared to 4% of the overall US population. And in 2019 alone, 21 transgender people have been killed in hate crimes across the United States—17 of which who, notably, were transgender women of color.

 

These issues and others facing the transgender community are observed annually from November 13-19 during Transgender Awareness Week, which culminates in Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20. During this time period, people and organizations around the country help raise the visibility of transgender people and address issues members of the community face. Alongside millions of people organizing education & advocacy campaigns worldwide, we wanted to highlight nine companies that make it clear they are advocates and allies for their transgender employees and the community at large. With access to equal employment and a discrimination-free workplace a prevalent issue facing the transgender community, companies who are vocal in their support and advocacy for the transgender community are more important than ever. Read about nine companies who have histories of paving pathways for equality and are committed to providing workplace inclusion, federally-protected safety, and access to encompassing healthcare.

 

1.  AT&T

 For 34 years, AT&T has pioneered the conversation of workplace protection, authentic employee representation, and LGBTQIA+ advocacy. They are a company of historic firsts in the field, including being one of the first U.S. corporations to explicitly protect their LGBTQIA+ employees from workplace discrimination (1975) and to adopt definitive healthcare benefits for transgender employees (2006). AT&T’s advocacy doesn’t stop at the company walls, though; in 2018, they donated $1 Million to The Trevor Project, the organization’s single largest contribution in history. They continue to be a part of the conversation by fueling TrevorTalk and TrevorChat, the LGBTQIA+ suicide prevention and crisis intervention mobile services, with over $675,000 worth of their products and services. AT&T thinks beyond policy and paper, and cultivates safer spaces both inside their company and within their communities.

 

2.  IBM

 With eLearning frameworks specific to the Gender Discussion—such as their Workplace Transition Framework, THINKpolicy and #ProudIBMers—IBM holds their employees accountable to creating an inclusive workplace. In 2001, they took employee-driven accountability a step further and implemented the LGBT+ Global Diversity Business Development organization to develop the continued understanding, education, and long-term policy strategy for the fast-growing company. Since the team of strategic advisors has been deployed, IBM has positioned themselves as a thought leader in workplace inclusion, best practices, and extended employee learning. Their vast amount of resources includes the Gender Transition in the Global Workplace study, a case study explaining the depth of which the IBM goes to create sustainable practices, policies, and pipelines for transitioning and fellow employees to follow. The protocol leaves the pace of the workplace transition entirely to the transitioning employee’s preference, allowing their managers and coworkers to listen, learn, and further their understanding of the importance of transgender acceptance in the workplace.

 

3.  Chevron

 Chevron Gas & Mobile has taken a stand for the comfort of their transgender employees since 2005, in an exceptional way: education. They were globally known as “Employee Resource Group of the Year” because of their release of an educational pamphlet outlining employee transition guidelines, complete with gender terminology, differentiating sexual orientation, and creating a workplace engagement plan. Their peer-to-peer based company training culture effectively reduces stress for transitioning employees by placing social conduct responsibility on everyone, such as including management support in creating healthy conversations about the transition process. In fact, Chevron’s attained over 7 awards applauding them for the diverse workplace, including Forbes’ Best Employers for Diversity, Women, and New Grads in 2019 alone.

 

4. Campbell’s

 Since 2008, when they released an ad featuring a lesbian couple, Campbell has been featured as “Best Place to work for LGBT equality”. Campbell introduced a subtle and powerful way to recognize a need for social change early on, and, more importantly, when they received retaliation, they didn’t back down from their decision. Campbell supports their transgender community extensively through end-to-end policies and benefits including Anti-Discrimination, Anti-Harassment, and Retaliation Prevention policies, as well as fully inclusive healthcare coverage and benefits.

  

5.   Unilever

 So far, we’ve covered community involvement, improving visible representation, and education. Unilever doesn’t use just one of these approaches; they use all of these approaches. As part of their expansive 2019 “United We Stand” Campaign for WorldPride Week, Unilever partnered with 6 large-scale advocacy organizations, including the Trans Justice Funding Project and PFLAG. In a very fitting initiative for WorldPride Week 2019, Unilever teamed up with well-known director Tourmaline to produce “Happy Birthday, Marsha!”, an Amazon Prime film exposing the life of Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson, the rallying fire behind the infamous 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, where WorldPride Week 2019 was hosted. As co-founder of the Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR), Johnson was a New York City transgender icon, known for her unabolished self-love and resourcefulness, used to help homeless transgender youth off the streets. And with 20% of transgender people experiencing homelessness at some point in their life, Unilever understands that teaming up with grassroots organizations like the Trans Justice Funding Project is an effective way to combat real problems affecting local communities.

 

6.  HP, Inc.

When HP was recognized in the U.S. for having the most diverse board of directors in 2017—at the time, 23 percent were underrepresented minorities—they sent out a mission statement to become “The Most Diverse Tech Company”, focusing on the ingrained hiring process biases within the tech industry. Since then, they’ve been continually advocating for diversity being their #1 drive in innovation, adaptability, and growth, and their transgender employees are no exception. From their first policy inclusion in 2003 to the expansion of their ERG to include the Out & Equal Workplace summit, HP has had a consistent 100% HRC rating recognizing policies, practices, and benefits working cohesively to accept, include, and propel transgender employees.

 

7. Lyft

Transitioning is a social, legal, and political process that effects every touchpoint of a transitioning employee’s life. When laying out their variety of internal benefits, policies, and outreach initiatives, Lyft realized this. In late 2018, they initiated the Round Up and Donate program, which voluntarily rounded-up ride funds and funneled the difference directly to HRC and their gender equality initiatives. Lyft continues to donate to transgender non-profit organizations, provide financial assistance for the identification changes for transitioning drivers, and release incredibly produced content, such as their Pride Zine Two is Too Few. It’s clear Lyft uses whatever is at their disposal to make their employees feel supported, visible, and accepted when working for them, extending as far as giving them the platform to share their stories and have their voices heard publicly.

 

8.  United Airlines

Every company interacts with their client experience in different ways. While your company may be strictly business-to-business (B2B), many companies are directly client-facing, and must juggle both their employee and customer experience. United Airlines understands that their customer journey involves many variables—the majority of which they have no control over. Their solution? Focusing on the variables they can control, such as the booking and flight experiences and being the first U.S. airline to offer the “Mx.” Title for gender non-conforming passengers. Internally, they are dedicated to including trans employees in employee outreach, developing training modules, and furthering employee education. United Airlines provides end-to-end support for all transgender people, from first company contact to the very end of the customer or employee experience.

 

9.  Lush

In 2018, Lush, in response to the high political tension stemming from ‘bathroom bills’ and military bans, transformed their North American stores into public advocacy campaigns, including signage, brochures, “BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER” T-shirts, and a bath melt named “Inner Truth”. Lush promptly donated 100% of sales of “Inner Truth” to the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Canadian Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity, furthering their research to abolish the administrative breakdown of transgender safety rights, access to healthcare, and military enlistment. They followed-up their retail overhaul with a series of videos outlining the real lives of transgender people, which later became internal resources now available on their website.

 

Adapting your company culture to support, uplift, and encourage safe spaces for your transgender, transitioning, and gender non-conforming employees will call for active organizational change management and constant quality assurance. But with effective workplace engagement planning, internal education and external advertising, preparing for the questions and emotionally-charged conflict is possible. Following these nine companies as guides can set you on the right path to advocating for your transgender employees, continuing your internal innovation, and securing the most talented and engaged team you’ve had to date.

 

Sarah Katari is a resume writer-turned-content marketer from Anchorage, Alaska. They are a user-focused small business copywriter leveraging Anchorage’s healthy entrepreneurship community to “give first” with their own small business, Katari Creative. Sign up for their weekly small business newsletter here.

Lead Image Credit: Foreign & Commonwealth Office

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