How to Support Your Transgender Employees
MINDBODY’s Core Values are an integral part of what makes it an amazing place to work. Our values and our culture are important to many of our employees. As a transgender woman, MINDBODY’s values and our culture of inclusivity and diversity are especially important to me. Although lesbian and gay rights advocates have made huge strides in civil rights in the past two decades, the transgender community is still very much misunderstood and marginalized. Being out and visible remains a vulnerable experience, and I’ve definitely encountered prejudice in the workplace in the past.
That hasn’t been a problem, though, at MINDBODY. When I started here, my supervisors told me, “Diversity is the lifeblood of any successful organization.” Everyone I work with, including our CEO Rick, has been unconditionally supportive of me, and I know our other LGBT employees are similarly supported.
When MINDBODY says we’re “leveraging technology to improve the wellness of the world,” there’s no doubt in my mind that the LGBT community is affirmatively and enthusiastically included.
So how do you as a business owner support your transgender employees? Here are a few of the ways MINDBODY has supported my journey:
- Pay attention to culture. MINDBODY’s culture and our focus on our Core Values act to discourage prejudice—but what’s more, our culture and values tend to be attractive to diverse, open-minded, supportive people. Create a culture where everyone—male and female, straight and gay, cisgender and transgender—can thrive, and you’ll have a happy, supportive, productive workforce.
- Make inclusivity and diversity a priority. It’s easy for people to go with what’s safe, familiar and comfortable. If you make diversity in hiring and promotion a priority, you make space in your team for great people, no matter what their identity. You create a welcoming, supportive culture for everyone—and that can only benefit your business.
- Create safe space for change. When a transgender employee undergoes a change of gender, her or his friends, family and co-workers are necessarily along for the ride. Creating a supportive environment for those transitions—where people use the employee’s preferred name and pronouns, where communication about the employee’s transition is respectful, and where the employee can feel comfortable even during the “in-between” period of transition, is essential.
- Make sure your benefits cover all employees’ health and wellness needs. Some (but not all) transgender employees choose to undergo psychological, medical and/or surgical procedures to conform their bodies to their internal gender identities. You can support them by providing benefits coverage for these procedures, and by working with them to make their journey through the healthcare bureaucracy as smooth and frictionless as possible.
- Focus on the whole person. My identity as a transgender woman is an important aspect of who I am, but it’s far from the only aspect of my life. Remember that each of your employees is a whole and complete individual, and support them in whatever journeys of growth they undergo.
- Zero tolerance for intolerance. This should go without saying, but prejudice, bigotry and harassment have no place in an inclusive workplace. Set the expectation from your top management downward that such behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Then follow through.
These tips will help make a better, more inclusive experience for your transgender employees. But more than that, creating a diverse, inclusive nurturing workplace is better for all the people who work in it.