Transgender in the Work Place – and announcing a great conference in August

Transgender is an umbrella term for the spectrum of people whose gender identity or expression does not conform to society’s expectations of male and female. In some cases, gender expression takes the form of clothing, hair style, voice and body characteristics. In other cases, we are taking about gender identity, which is the way a person feels internally about who they really are. This means there are people who may have been born as physical males, but deep down inside they feel they are female. And there are people who may been born as physical females, but deep down inside believe they are truly male. This is an oversimplification since there are wide ranges of possibilities. The most current highly visible transgender person is Chaz Bono, formerly Chastity Bono, now the son of Sonny and Cher.

“Left Hander in London” is an excellent new book explaining many aspects of the transgender life. More information at end of blog.

So what does this mean for the workplace? With more visibility given to transgender people, more people desire to go through the gender transition process while remaining in their jobs. Instead of moving to a far away city and starting life all over again, many transgender people now want to continue in the community and company where they have their network of friends and have built professional expertise. And it makes sense that a company would want to support such employees and retain this important talent. As an employee transitions from male to female, or female to male, they still retain the those skills and company knowledge that make them a valuable employee.

A short blog does not provide the space to go through the policies and procedures that companies can execute to support gender transitioning employees. But there is a great opportunity later this summer for you, your company or enterprise to gain this valuable knowledge. The SouthEastern Transgender Health Summit (Tagline: Providing Access, Promoting Wellness) will be held in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina in Asheville August 23-25, 2012. Though the primary audience for this event is healthcare providers including physicians, nurses, psychologists and other mental health professionals, a special track has been designed for human resource professionals and business leaders, valuable for everyone including those not in the health field. The overarching goal of this conference is to increase the awareness of need, and to improve the quality and accessibility of culturally competent care for those who identify as transgender. Link here for more information and to register for this summit. I will be a presenter and panelist as well as having a display booth all weekend.

Additional Resources:
• Left-Hander in London: A Field Guide to Transgenders, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals. This newly published book is written by JJ Gufredo, a successful transgender business owner and process consultant. Click here for more information and to order this informative and inspirational book.
• Link to an excellent article on transgender employees in the magazine “Insight into Diversity” (pages 22-24). Magazine

The Growing Various Types of Diversity

In my last blog where I discussed the shift of diversity to being a key strategic initiative for competing successfully in today’s fast-paced global economy (link here to that blog), I promised to next write about the various types of diversity. The diversity field itself is becoming increasingly diverse!

Twenty years ago in the United States (and even in some enterprises today) diversity meant gender and race. And often race only extended to white and black. The first expansion was to include sexual orientation (which first meant gay men and lesbians, and then itself was expanded to include bisexuals and transgender people) and people with disabilities.

But over the past decade and even now, the diversity field has been expanding and the new areas are even more applicable outside the United States since they address global phenomena. Some of these new areas (for some of these have I short new videos you can watch) include:

For the first time in history, there are 4 generations simultaneously in the workplace.

Generational Diversity. For the first time we now have four generations of people in the workplace. The Millennials are now graduating from college and entering the workplace, and at the same time people in their 60s and 70s are staying on the job for various reasons, including financial security and wanting to stay mentally vibrant and challenged. The four generations each view work and relationships very differently, and good managers and team members will understand this and manage to this diversity. View my 2.5 minute video on Generational Diversity.
Cultural Diversity. This refers to the growing cross-cultural and cross-national teams now working in our enterprises. With the explosion of internet technology, sales capabilities and supply chains have now become global. Even first level departments often have people located in multiple countries and more people are moving across boundaries and entering the workplace away from where they were born. View my 1 minute video on Cultural Diversity.
Diversity of Thought – a brand new emerging area. Companies are now looking beyond diversity of appearance and to diversity in ways of thinking. When companies open themselves to diverse approaches to business problems and developing solutions, often a blended solution which includes different ideas results in a much stronger answer. When an enterprise is comprised of leaders who all think exactly alike, there is a huge potential for missing entire market segments and innovative products and offerings. Embracing diversity of thought includes listening to others and keeping an open mind to creativity and innovation.

For your own enterprise, consider how you can leverage these different areas of diversity to win in your marketplace.