How to promote a transgender inclusive workplace

We want to support solicitors and firms in creating a positive workplace for all staff regardless of their gender identity.

To help we have created guidance offering practical tips and ways to implement a trans-positive workplace in your firm.

We also want to better understand the issues around trans equality in law firms. This is why we have made changes to our firm diversity data questionnaire, working closely with expert organisations to add in a question about transgender and provide an option for people to recognise their gender identity.

Below are some real-life stories of how law firms are supporting and promoting trans inclusion.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Background

Pinsent Masons is committed to making sure their firm is as inclusive as possible and this includes promoting and encouraging transgender equality. They have been ranked as second in Stonewall's Top 100 employers.

What did they do?

  • Launched a film on gender identity in aid of Mermaids, a charity supporting children and young people, who are raising awareness about gender issues amongst professionals and the general public.
  • Added a gender identity question to their annual diversity monitoring form. This resulted in some staff answering positively in that they identified with a different gender to that assigned at birth.
  • Relaunched their 'Straight Allies' network as 'Allies' to take in to account gender identity as well as sexual orientation.
  • Changed client registration to include Mx as an option alongside Ms, Miss, Mr etc.
  • Sponsored an inspiring production by the Adam World Choir, a digital trans and non binary community choir.
  • Introduced new inclusive leadership and workplace training.

Next Steps

Pinsent Masons are looking to introduce gender neutral toilets, as well considering redesigning their office and work spaces to more inclusive.

Hogan Lovells LLP

Background

Hogan Lovells recognise that their success as a global firm depends on them attracting and retaining the best people. They understand that a key part of this is having a working environment where people of all backgrounds and experiences can reach their full potential.

What did they do?

They created a policy spelling out the support Hogan Lovells offers to anyone wishing to transition and the colleagues they work with.

As part of their policy launch, they also provided trans inclusion training to their staff who work with clients. This included advice on how to talk to colleagues and clients about a staff member who has transitioned and guidance on what kind of language to use.

Next steps

Hogan Lovells will be rolling out further training and support in the future.

What they said

Ruth Grant, partner at Hogan Lovells and chair of their Global Diversity and Inclusion Committee, said:

Recognising the qualities and strengths required throughout the transitioning process, we are committed to supporting our people who wish to transition and to ensuring that their work and personal wellbeing are maintained throughout their transition."
 

Gowlings WLG

Background

At Gowling WLG, their approach to inclusion is simple. Their aim is everyone can simply be themselves in the workplace, maximise their potential without anything getting in the way. In 2011, they joined Stonewall’s Global Diversity Champion scheme and started a LGBT network, OpenHouse, shortly after.

What did they do?

  • Worked with trans colleagues to create their first transgender policy for anyone considering transitioning - letting them know the firm is with them every step of the way.
  • Reviewed their diversity and inclusion statement and policies so they were explicit in the inclusion of gender identity and gender reassignment.
  • Launched an inclusion week.
  • Celebrated Day of Pink with their staff and marked Trans Day of Visibility and Trans Memorial Day via social media and digital signage around the offices.
  • Had a transgender colleague speak at recruitment events and as a keynote speaker at a gender awards dinner, telling her personal story and sharing the impact of having supportive employers during her transition and beyond.
  • Reviewed recruitment documents and added ‘Mx’ as an option their prefix when applying for roles at the firm.

Next steps

Gowlings WLG are looking at enhancing their training to be more trans inclusive and changing internal systems to include ‘non–binary’ as a gender option.

What they said

Mark Greenburgh, partner at Gowlings WLG said:

We want to be an inclusive workplace, which not only enables but encourages and supports all employees to be themselves and thrive regardless of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. If someone wants to transition at work, they will be supported every step of the way and we will work with our trans colleagues to ensure we are as trans inclusive as possible.”
 

Why it is important to support your trans staff

A trans solicitor's story

Many of us will say we do not know any trans people and it is an issue which does not affect us. However despite the higher profile of some trans men and women in public life these days, there are many people who do not feel safe to come out at work.

Some law firms are thinking more about their responsibilities towards their trans employees but many are closing their eyes to the issues.

I struggled with mental ill health for some years but managed to keep up a successful practice. However In 2010, I had another breakdown and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. I shared this with close colleagues and my line manager. Suddenly the atmosphere in the office became uncomfortable. Snide comments and dirty looks were hard to ignore and the members piled on the pressure, hoping I would leave.

Things became intolerable and the firm did nothing to help. I was told to take annual leave for the counselling sessions I needed. I became desperately unwell and took a sabbatical from which I never returned. There was never any discussion about how I might return to work or whether I planned to transition and how the firms could support me to do this.

What law firms can do?

Every firm, large or small should be aware of the consequences of not supporting their staff through what can be a very difficult time. People who are transitioning or living their life in the ‘wrong’ gender can be very vulnerable. Law firms can look at how they provide support to all their staff including trans staff and often it is just about treating people fairly.

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