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In light of the current focus around the Gender Recognition Act consultation, enabling individuals to be able to self-identify, it is quite apt timing to explore what it really means to be transgender and how that might affect you within a recruitment process.
Diversity is interpreted in so many different ways, and in terms of recruitment, gender has been at the top of many organisations’ agenda for a while. There has been a real drive in the UK to push for equality, to the point that employers are setting quotas around gender, BAME, and often disability. But what about LGBT? More specifically, how much do we really understand about what it means to be trans?
According to Stonewall, 1% of our population identify as trans, including those who identify as non-binary. When considering differences, particularly in the workplace, understanding is key. If we don’t understand the needs of the minority groups within our businesses, how can we really support them?
As part of our diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy at PageGroup, we regularly run events to help raise awareness and improve understanding of the many aspects of D&I in the workplace. Two notable speakers we have been working with are Leng Montgomery, a diversity and inclusion executive and trans specialist from the UK, who actively engages and consults with private and public sector companies, and Joanne Lockwood, founder and CEO of SEE Change Happen, an equality, diversity, and inclusion practice specialising in improving transgender awareness and providing support to organisations.
Leng is a regular speaker within the LGBT field who has appeared on BBC radio, written policy, and delivered keynote speeches to many UK and Global organisations. Past talks that Leng has presented highlight that the voices of trans people have not been heard, and that we need to let them tell their own stories. Joanne points out in her talks that in life, people are expected to fit into boxes. At work, we expect people to fit into our cultures and ways of doing things. But the fact is, people work differently and have different needs. These differences should be celebrated and embraced, not act as barriers.
We want to help build workplaces where people feel comfortable to bring their whole selves to work, and can be open about who they really are. We believe employers need to be more intersectional when it comes to diversity and consider more than just gender when recruiting.
So what does inclusivity in recruitment really mean? It starts right at the beginning when looking at candidate attraction and it needs to be omnipresent throughout selection, induction, development and promotion. This means leadership, the culture, and the strategy - no area is exempt.
Diversity in isolation isn’t sustainable if you don’t have an inclusive environment. From the moment a candidate engages with an organisation, they need to feel that their differences are valued. From the wording in a job description, through to the way an interview is conducted, their induction, and right up to the day they leave the company. Leaders need to be inclusive in their approach. They need to seek diverse input from their people to ensure richness of thought and innovation. A business culture, therefore, needs to epitomise inclusion, so that each individual feels comfortable being themselves in the workplace, accepted without exception, and that their voice matters.
To build a truly diverse workforce, organisations must be prepared to evolve: listen to different perspectives, actively seek out a variety of opinions, and allow individuals to challenge the status quo. The key is to eliminate groupthink and encourage change, to drive business success. Organisations that do this well have been found to significantly outperform those that do not. So, while there are, of course, moral and ethical drivers for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, there is no denying that there is a clear commercial value for businesses too.