‘Essential’ new guidelines for trans and non-binary inclusion at work issued by HR association

This is an image of 3 people. The center image is of a masculine presenting person. They have short hair and are smiling. To the right is an image of a gender-queer individual. On the left side there is a trans woman with black hair.

The Chartered Insitute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), an association of human resource professionals have published new guidance on how businesses can promote trans and non-binary inclusion in the workplace.

The guide provides professionals, employers, and people managers with the information needed to take an informed and proactive approach to supporting transgender and non-binary people at work, as part of a broader diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) policy. It also provides insights from people with lived experience to help employers understand the issues and challenges facing these individuals.

Data from the CIPD shows that 55 per cent of trans employees have experienced harassment and discrimination while at work. Additionally, 18 per cent of trans employees say that they feel psychologically unsafe.

The guide covers the key areas of the entire lifecycle of an employee – from recruitment through to progression – as well as suggestions to build a more inclusive workplace culture.

Commenting on the new guidelines, Peter Cheese, chief executive at the CIPD said: “It’s the responsibility of every employer to recognise the challenges faced by all marginalised groups, including transgender and non-binary people, and take every measure to provide safe and inclusive environments where everyone can thrive.”

An acknowledgement of gender-critical beliefs

The guide highlights that employers in England, Scotland, and Wales have a legal responsibility to create a safe working environment for all employees, regardless of their protected characteristics. The Equality Act 2010 protects all employees from discrimination and harassment on the basis of their protected characteristics, which include age, disability, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, gender, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

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However, the guide does mention that under the same act, gender-critical views may be protected as “holding these views is not in itself unlawful discrimination.” The guide does note though, that holding those views doesn’t give anyone the right to “manifest” any of those views in a discriminatory way at work.

For example, intentional deadnaming is considered unlawful, as is refusing to use a colleague’s correct name or pronouns or revealing personal information.

The guide advises business leaders to be very clear on the boundaries between “acceptable differences of beliefs and unacceptable manifestations of behaviour in the workplace.”

The guide suggests that individual employers have a clear definition of what could be considered transphobic to clarify the standards for behaviour.

Use the lived experience to shape policy

Elsewhere in the guide, the CIPD urges businesses to consult outside experts and employees with lived experience when shaping new DE&I policies. By actively listening, business leaders can “develop and intersectional perspective” and “identify any particular aspects which may not be clearly understood and/or fully accepted by others who hold alternative views.”

The guide also suggests how HR teams and business leaders can support employees who are transitioning. They highlight long waiting times for gender-affirming care through the NHS and the “bullying, harassment and hostility, which is most likely to occur at the point of transition but can happen at any time.”

The CIPD advises creating a transitioning-at-work policy to support both line managers and colleagues. They say the policy should go beyond the possible medical needs and also consider the lived experience, best practices for support and data protection for employees going through a legal name change.

The CIPD’s guidelines come as many household brands in the UK are announcing new policies that offer specific support to trans and non-binary employees. Earlier this summer, electronics retailer Currys revealed that they will offer an additional six weeks of paid leave to cover appointments, surgeries and recovery time.

Compassion and understanding are the key

For Thea Bardot, a non-binary business owner and founder of Lightning Travel, the guidance from the CIPD some one of the strongest they’ve ever seen.

“The methodology is robust, with trans and non-binary people having been consulted, as well as organisations specialising in inclusion and awareness and this is evident in the recommendations made.”

They tell PinkNews: “The guidance puts people first, making it clear that for real change to be made in this space compassion and understanding are key, that conversation should be encouraged and that training is essential.”

This is an image of Thea Bardot. They are wearing a red suit with a white top. They have short hair and are smiling.
Thea Bardot, founder and chief executive at Lightning Travel Recruitment. (Supplied)

Bardot appreciates that the CIPD addresses the polarising issue of gender-critical beliefs and the guide “acknowledges that while some people may hold this view it does not mean that it is lawful for those views to be communicated in a way which is discriminatory.”

“I consider this to be essential reading, especially for those involved in recruitment, HR and people management,” Bardot concludes.

“It provides an invaluable framework enabling companies to begin a crucial conversation which so many are currently avoiding. Tackling this subject head-on will benefit everyone within the organisation, not just those who are gender diverse.”

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