Recently our very own Joanne Lockwood was interviewed by Amanda Parvin of Ethical HR Solutions to discuss Trans inclusion in the workplace, and how employers can ensure that are providing a supportive culture and environment.
Hello my name is Amanda Parvin of Ethical HR Solutions and today I’m with Joanne Lockwood from SEE Change Happen. Joanne is a Transgender Female who the transitioned in 2017.
So, as an HR Consultant my view point and thoughts always comes from HR and employment perspective, but before we look at the employment situation and how trans individuals are supported in the workplace, I think it’s important to understand Joanne’s journey, emotional and physical journey and then that will help us understand any difficulties in the workplace and then offer any support for employers and employees.
So hello Joanne. Hi.
Perhaps you could sort of give us an overview of your journey that you’ve been through me couple of years?
Yes, well I first was open to the world in about 2016, at which point I told my family and at that point I found it quite a struggle to be open at work. It was a Small Business and I was one of the Directors, and I just felt that it was too disruptive to the organisation for me to impose on them my change, so I was quite fortunate I had the opportunity to exit via a management buyout and transition if you like in 2017, as myself in a new career which is now advising businesses about trans awareness and trans support.
Okay, thank you.
So in your experience then and with your colleagues and friends that you engage with, what sort of challenges are there within the workplace for trans individuals? I think the primary issue, for the want of a better way of putting it, is education, lack of understanding, there is this fear of getting it wrong, a fear of upsetting somebody, so often trans people are changing their name their personality, their pronouns and titles and not every workplace is necessarily prepared for that change, and trans individuals themselves have a lot of anxiety about that change, and how they’ll be accepted and integrated.
So, I think education is probably the key barrier, and organisations that put time and effort into working with their staff, creating great policies, are far more welcoming and open place for trans people to be themselves.
Okay, so is there anything, apart from what you’ve already explained, any other key things, if you are giving advice to employers and employees any other key things that you think would be beneficial to support a trans individual?
I think the key thing is creating a culture of openness where people are people, everybody is valued for who they are, and you will see, as an employee that you can approach your employer.
You don’t want to be the first, you don’t want to be the example, you don’t want to be the test case, going into your manager, going into your HR department and saying; “Hi, I’m me, I want to transition”, should almost be a “Okay, yes great let’s talk about this”, it’s not an unusual thing, it’s not a “how do we cope, what do we do”, “we don’t know”, so you want to feel that the person is ready to listen to you, in the same way that when someone says; “I’m pregnant”, “I need to do this”, whatever, I just want to transition. There needs to be an understanding of how that would work.
Okay, thank you. So I suppose from an employer’s point of view then, what would you say would be the benefits of employing a trans individual in the workplace. Well, trans people are people, they have skills, just because they’re trans doesn’t mean to say that they’re not capable of doing their job. There are; Firemen, there are Doctors, there are mechanics, a banking person whatever they’re still the same person, so the benefits are they are employing a person who can do a role, the fact they’re trans shouldn’t come into it. But in my experience many people who’ve transitioned, have discovered who they are, they’re very self-actuated individuals that make them become more confident and they’ve got a lot more self belief, so I would say the trans people generally, once they are allowed to succeed are very highly functioning human beings.
Okay, Thank you very much, well I hope that has enabled people to understand a little bit more about trans individuals, and also how to support trans individuals in the workplace.
If anybody out there would like any help please feel free to contact me at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’
Thank you, and thank you to Joanne as well. Thank you so much. Thank you.