A new report has revealed a strong prejudice among UK companies, with one in three admitting they are less likely to hire a transgender worker and 43 per cent ‘unsure’.
The survey identified the retail sector as having the highest number (47 per cent) of businesses unlikely to employ a transgender, followed by IT (45 per cent), leisure and hospitality (35 per cent) and manufacturing (34 per cent). The financial services industry is most open to the idea of hiring transgender workers but with only a third (34 per cent) agreeable to the idea, along with the legal sector (33 per cent) and construction and engineering (25 per cent).
Just three per cent of the 1,000 employers polled from a cross section of industries have an equal opportunities policy that openly welcomes transgender people to apply for jobs. And out of the third of employers that would consider hiring a transgender, just eight per cent think they should have the same rights to be hired for a job as everyone else. Few feel their workplace is liberal enough to tolerate transgender workers, with only four per cent declaring their workplace culture diverse enough for transgender people to ‘fit in’.
The findings, published by Crossland Employment Solicitors, come amidst recent reports by Stonewall, revealing how half of transgender workers hide their identity at work for fear of discrimination. In fact, Crossland Employment Solicitors also found that some 74 per cent of employers have never knowingly worked with a transgender – implying that most transgender workers do not reveal their true gender identity for fear of condemnation.
The report by Crossland Employment Solicitors also found a serious lack of trans-inclusive workplace policies among UK employers across all sectors and especially in the IT sector. 88 per cent of all employers and 93 per cent in the tech sector, admitted to not having any policies specific for transgender workers.
“Our findings reinforce what bodies such as ACAS and the Women and Equalities Select Committee have been highlighting to the Government for years; trans-identity is more complex than the law currently recognises,” said Crossland Employment Solicitors’ MD Beverley Sunderland.
“What’s most worrying is the high percentage of employers that are biased against transgender workers from the recruitment stage and beyond. And not just in one sector, but a prejudiced attitude that is found throughout both shop floor and management in particular in the retail and tech sectors. Whether this reflects a lack of understanding or simply a fear of a potential discrimination claim, is not evident.
“What is clear is the need to change the law to protect not just those who are going through gender reassignment, but the wider transgender community such as non-binary workers. In 2016 The Women and Equalities Select Committee recommended amending the protected characteristic of gender reassignment in the Equalities Act 2010 to read ‘gender identity’ which was rejected by Government. But if we’re to encourage businesses to build a trans-inclusive workplace then we need the backing of the law together with greater support for employers to help understand the issues around transgender workers in the workplace. A business where everyone feels welcome and valued is by far a more productive one.”