Developing an inclusive organizational culture and embracing diversity at the workplace is beyond celebrating the festivals and days. In fact, creating a comprehensive HR policy can have its roots dug deep in something as basic as gender identity. But there’s more to it than just the binary genders – male and female. There is a group of people living among us, for whom the boundaries separating the binary genders are hazy.
At any given point, they may identify themselves as male or female or both or none. With the decriminalization of section 377, last year the LGBTQ community heaved a sigh of relief but they have a long struggle ahead – To gain acceptance in the society, to belong, to feel respected.
In such a scenario, is your organization ready to make them feel involved, rather, to treat them equally?
An employee’s non-performance could be a result of an internal conflict with the mind or struggling at home. To perform better, all they might need is empathy, not sympathy, from someone. Think of it this way. Knowing your employees will serve as a groundwork for developing an inclusive HR policy, that will actually empower and liberate them rather than an impersonal and exclusive policy which ignores them.
Write it in black and white
Ostracism of gender fluid staff should be added to the non-discrimination policy. Conduct workshops to sensitize your staff about gender fluidity, how to communicate with them and address them. Most gender fluid people prefer to be addressed as ‘they’ or ‘them’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’. This becomes a crucial aspect, especially when an employee is in the transition. The anti-discrimination policy should also extend to the delegation of job responsibilities, which should be solely based on the employees’ calibre, and not their gender orientation.
Not just staff, even the senior management must be inducted towards the need for adopting an inclusive policy. The top-down decision can play a vital role in policy adherence. For example, usage of titles like ‘Mr.’, ‘Ms.’, and ‘Mrs.’ Strive to do away with that formality; putting it into practice can be the first step.
Make hiring an unbiased non-judgmental process
The National Human Rights Commission found that 92% of trans people do not contribute to the country’s economic activity. The social stigma is the primary reason for such indifference. It is of utmost importance that hiring managers keep their pre-conceived notions aside and focus on recruiting the best candidate suitable for the job irrespective of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Devise people-centric benefits, not gender-centric
When it comes to restrooms, the binary genders are the winners, and the gender fluid/LGBTQ category suffer. The right solution in this regard is to either create unisex restrooms or install single stalls in addition to male-female washrooms. Another employee benefit that needs attention is the maternity/paternity leaves. The gender fluid may not relate to any of these due to the blurred gender borders. Renaming it as parental leaves and adding extra pointers to extend the leaves to them can serve the purpose.
Also, does you employee group insurance include the gender fluid/LGBTQ category? Many times, they are counted as exclusions. Speak to the insurer and get a revised policy to include them and understand the procedure of the same. Last year, VLCC provided training for two dozen trans people to become assistant beauty therapists at their Hyderabad outlets. In fact, by 2020, Tata Steel has claimed to have 25% of its employee workforce from across diverse groups. Out of which, 5% will belong to the LGBT+ community.
In a nutshell
Rumi once said – ‘Beyond the ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.’ Create that neutral space, a ‘safe-zone’ for your employees. A place where everyone belongs. A place where respect is earned for merit and where discrimination is a part of zero-tolerance. After all, everyone deserves to be accepted, without conditions.