Dive In: Transforming ideas in the industry

Dive In: Transforming ideas in the industry

The “terminology around trans* people and their lives can be confusing and impenetrable” was the opening gambit at the Tackling Trans* Inclusion in the Workplace workshop at the Dive In Festival.

Hosted by LINK, the LGBT+ Insurance Network, the talk formed part of the diversity and inclusion field of events for Dive In Festival and showed that there is a significant business case for doing better around the issues of trans* inclusivity.

Rachel Reese, a corporate lawyer and vice chair of the Law Society’s LGBT group, and Emma Cusdin, HR manager at Aviva, reiterated many of the problems that surround the community.

One of those, which has been previously highlighted by Reactions earlier this year in interviews with the co-chairs of the insurance LGBT+ group LINK, was that there is no data from the government for trans* people. The UK government does not include it as part of censuses or other statistic gathering. This means trans* people have no data to support their claims which makes it harder to assess and finance endeavours to improve their lives and access to work.

This is a big problem because only 38% of trans* people are employed full time in the UK, despite being “a robust, educated group, who want to contribute”, said Reese.

It’s also an issue for insurers in particular, as they are “falling behind” other sectors like banking and law who have already made changes to be more trans* inclusive. Simple steps to improve the way they can attract and retain trans* staff are not being taken. Ideas like offering a third option such as “other/prefer not to say” for gender drop down boxes on online forms are often lacking from insurers’ websites for recruitment purposes, as are titles that reflect modern parlance – many still only offer Mr, Miss and Mrs.

This, said the discussion which was aimed at re/insurers’ HR teams to showcase the improved way they can help trans* people through their journey in the workplace, shows that simple improvements are often the most important steps to the ways an employer can help a trans* employee.

One of the main ways this was shown was in terms of the gender recognition. In the UK, when a trans* person wants to change their status of gender on their birth certificate they must get a Gender Recognition Certificate which is an extremely invasive, lengthy and bureaucratic process that is difficult and expensive.

Instead, Cusdin advises HR managers to “see how low they can go” in terms of getting ID and supporting documents to ascertain a legal change of gender status for employment purposes.

Other practical things that can be done to support trans* employees include providing proper signage on bathrooms to show they are gender neutral or “inclusive” - and not indulging in whimsical signs. There is also the step of providing leave for the family member or partner of a trans* person so they can help their loved one recover from surgeries or other medical treatment, which Aviva is one of the first to offer.

A key change that befits insurance firms is an onus on finding a private health insurance partner that offers trans* health services as part of offered an employee benefits package. Aon has just taken such a step.

More basic steps include training reception and security staff to not use gendered greetings – a simple “hello everyone” instead of “hello ladies and gentlemen”.

There is clear and consistent evidence that inclusive and diverse companies are more profitable. McKinsey & Co’s “Delivering through Diversity” report stated that companies with positive acceptance of LGBT+ individuals were more profitable – but even this is not always enough to create change

When asked by Reactions for plans if senior managers were not convinced that it could make them more profitable, Cusdin and Reese said to look to the future for ways to encourage them. Appeal to “future proofing” said Cusdin. Millennials want to work for, and buy from, diverse companies, and this means that if companies want to survive to appeal to the next generation of consumer they will have to be in line with their views.

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