Have you thought about what you would do if a co-worker came out to you as transgender? What would your company do? How would both a transitioning employee and the rest of the team be supported?
While some companies have great plans and support in place, for a lot of folks (and companies) this is a difficult space to navigate—and one that is only navigated when personal stakes are at their highest. If a company doesn’t have a plan in place and hasn’t communicated explicit support for their employee during this time, transgender and gender non-conforming people may not even feel comfortable coming out at all in the workplace.
Why is Transgender Equality Important?
Transgender people, those whose internal gender identity differs from the sex that was assigned to them at birth, make up about 1.4 million adults in the United States. They are our friends, neighbors, loved ones and co-workers.
But according to a 2015 report by the National Center for Transgender Equality, people are suffering in plain sight:
- 29% of transgender people live in poverty
- 30% of transgender people reported being fired, denied a promotion or experienced mistreatment in the workplace in the 12 past months
- 31% of transgender people experienced mistreatment in a public place in the past 12 months
We have an opportunity to do better, both in our startup community and throughout the Midwest—so we’re going to do better. At Dwolla, one of our core beliefs is that inclusion fuels innovation. We believe that the best teams are built by the inclusion of diverse ideas, experiences and people.
We need to work together as a community to make this happen; there is no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all policy.
There's just so much brain space that gets eaten up by dysphoria . . . I am absolutely happier now! I have stronger relationships with all of my coworkers, I've made some incredible friends here and the company has given me the chance to be an advocate in the D&I space.
How We’re Trying to Help
As a start, Dwolla’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee is developing company guidance to better support the gender expression of all our employees—specifically including those that are transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming and those that decide to transition in the workplace.
We acknowledge that our company is not the subject matter expert in this area. What we are is a group committed to working side-by-side with experts in this field and with trans people themselves to create inclusive policies and resources. We are never done.
That’s why we’re excited to announce the start of something new: the Transition Forward Project. Along with our partners, we are hoping to have two key results:
- A collection of resources to help companies write policies and guidelines that are inclusive of transgender and gender non-conforming employees.
- A community of companies, non-profits and individuals working to raise awareness of why these policies and guidelines are important.
We’re asking for your help to build a more inclusive community. We’re looking for those that would like to take a stand with us, those that would be willing to share the experiences that shaped their own journey, and subject matter experts willing to help others. We’d love if you just want to follow along too!
What I would urge companies to think about is how they can be an ally; how can they offer the most respectful, compassionate experience to your transitioning team member.