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Creating an inclusive environment for transgender employees

An organization’s top-down embrace of the transgender community goes a long way toward providing a safe and inclusive workplace in which all employees can thrive.

The representation of transgender people has improved dramatically over the years, but that visibility hasn’t translated into an improved transgender workplace experience.

During a McKinsey Live webinar, associate partner David Baboolall (they/them) and senior partner Jill Zucker (she/her) discussed their recent McKinsey research that found more than half of transgender employees in the United States say they are not comfortable being out at work. They feel far less supported than cisgender employees, they find it more difficult to understand workplace culture and benefits, and they feel less supported by their managers.

The diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts from organizations tend to overlook the transgender experience, focusing only on sexual orientation and neglecting to include gender identity and expression. The following are among the many steps that employers of all sizes can take to expand their efforts and create an inclusive environment for transgender employees:

  • Establish a common vocabulary in the workplace. Organizations can provide their employees glossaries and hold sessions to help educate and inform conversations.
  • Be intentional in recruiting. Sponsor seminars and participate in recruiting events and job fairs while talking openly about the workplace experience for transgender employees.
  • Offer trans-affirming benefits. Human-resources teams can show up as allies by making sure company benefits for employees are both trans friendly and trans specific.
  • Offer trans-inclusive programs and policies. Include voices of trans people in diversity and cultural-competency training, and avoid gender-specific language in company policies.
  • Signal an inclusive culture. Offer employees the option to use their preferred name, include nonbinary gender identities in forms, encourage employees to provide pronouns, and celebrate transgender pride.

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For more on this topic, read the McKinsey Quarterly article “Being transgender at work.”

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