THE BLOG
08/31/2015 06:42 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2016

Transgender Awareness Training: A Business Essential

We have already reached the tipping point for transgender people in society and are quickly moving beyond it into new, uncharted territory. One seemingly cannot read a newspaper or magazine or turn on the television these days without encountering some mention of the transgender phenomenon. Caitlyn Jenner nearly broke the internet when she publicly revealed her gender realignment. Laverne Cox is winning awards for her acting. Janet Mock is appearing regularly on television news and current affairs programs. More transpeople than ever are coming out and making themselves visible to the world. There has never been a time in history when information about the transgender phenomenon was more readily available.

Due in no small part to this increased interest by the public, gender diversity in the workplace is an issue whose time has come. Over two thirds of the Fortune 500 companies now have non-discrimination policies that include gender identity and/or gender expression. These successful companies are not adopting such policies because they want to be nice -- they're doing it because they recognize that inclusion for gender diverse employees is a beneficial business strategy that works well on a variety of levels. In today's war for top talent, such a strategy can help create a significant competitive advantage in the areas of recruitment and retention.

However, even for companies with strong Diversity & Inclusion programs, there is often an information gap around the issue of transgender in the workplace. As with most complex issues in today's society, education is the key. There are many reasons why transgender awareness training is becoming a must for today's businesses. Here are a few of those reasons.

• The business case for transgender inclusion is strong and irrefutable. In order to be more effective in their work, employees need to understand 1) why this is so and 2) what the ramifications are for their organization. Effective transgender awareness training can help to educate them about this newly emerging business reality.

• Employers should be aware that the visible presence of transgender employees in the workplace is becoming increasingly commonplace. Global business expectations are shifting accordingly and organizations need to be appropriately responsive.

• In the United States, recent federal initiatives make employers directly responsible for the ways in which their organizations treat gender diverse employees. Violators may potentially face legal action.

• The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will actively pursue alleged sex discrimination cases based on transgender status and gender stereotyping. Violations of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act are being taken seriously by the federal government, and associated litigation is increasing.

• A Presidential executive order has been issued that bans discrimination against openly gay or transgender federal employees and government contractors.

• All employees deserve to be able to ask questions, voice potential fears and concerns and engage in meaningful dialogue about the issue of transgender in the workplace. Awareness training can provide such an opportunity in a safe and respectful environment that is conducive to learning, growth and enhancement of an organization's culture. Also, an effective training situation will offer valuable information about the scope and complexity of gender diversity as a social phenomenon that is receiving increased attention. The results of such initiatives often include improved morale, teamwork and overall productivity.

• Top management as well as HR and legal professionals need to be informed about the existing and emerging business implications of the transgender phenomenon. Certainly, organizations need to ensure they are in compliance with the law. Companies also need to respond effectively to changing public perceptions, new marketing trends and shifting business expectations.

• Transgender awareness training allows an organization to actively demonstrate its commitment to diversity in its workforce, to inclusion in its work environment and to respect for each individual. By offering such training the company is effectively stating that it values every employee's contributions and intrinsic human worth. In fact, the organization places such important on these principles that it is willing to devote time and money to educating its people about this emerging workplace trend. Efforts like these almost always result in improved morale and enhanced internal branding among the company's workforce, which is conducive to a stronger, more cohesive organization overall.

A knowledgeable, experienced, professional transgender consultant/trainer can provide lasting value through the sharing of insights and factual information from a unique and personalized perspective. This creates a memorable opportunity for the organization's employees to learn about the benefits of gender diversity inclusion from a qualified expert. Equipped with accurate information and effective tools, these employees can then return to their jobs better prepared to meet the challenges of a changing marketplace and an evolving work environment.

A company's own internal trainer can potentially do a good job. However, and primarily because of their status as a recognized expert, an outside transgender awareness trainer may do a better one. The ultimate goal is the creation of lasting value through an enhancement of an organization's culture. An effective consultant/trainer will ensure that the goal is met and, if at all possible, surpassed.

The world will continue to change and the business community must continue to respond to those changes in effective ways. New information will arise to inevitably impact society's expectations. The emergence of the gender diversity phenomenon is creating a need for companies to become more aware of the inherent challenges and opportunities created by this significant new social development. The key to success in this leading-edge area of business interest is education, and that is why transgender awareness training can be extremely beneficial for today's organizations. That is also why such training can help provide significant competitive advantages for companies that wisely choose to educate their people about transgender in the workplace. Finally, that is why transgender awareness training has become an essential initiative for businesses that seek to be more successful through a strategy of intentional inclusion for gender diverse employees.

If your organization is in need of transgender awareness training and/or transgender consulting assistance, please contact Vanessa via www.vanessasheridan.com.