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Transgender Inclusion: The Next Steps and Why They Matter

By Vanessa Sheridan

I’m delighted to present on the topic, “Transgender 202: The Next Steps” at the 2012 Multicultural Forum. I plan to share some vital information, practical tools, and helpful resources about this leading-edge area of business interest. You are warmly invited to attend.

As a diversity professional, you’re probably aware of the presence of transgender people in society. Perhaps you even know about the rapidly increasing visibility of transpersons in the workplace. Maybe your organization is already on board with transgender inclusion. If so, you’re part of something that’s very new for the modern business community.

In the year 2000, there were three Fortune 500 companies that included gender identity and/or gender expression in their employee non-discrimination policies. Today, almost half of the Fortune 500 has adopted such policies, and sixteen states currently protect the rights of transgender workers. Transgender employees (and customers) are finally beginning to be taken seriously by businesses, nonprofit organizations, and state/local governments. If you’re like me, you find that trend highly encouraging–but there is still much to be done.

I work with HR professionals in organizations of all sizes that seek to become transgender-inclusive. I’m also hearing from more and more companies that desire to move beyond the basics to ensure that their transgender employees will be fully integrated into the tapestry of their organizational culture. Enhanced cultural competence and full equality are the goals, and they carry significant implications for society. (As we know, social change often happens first in the workplace. Over time, people bring their acquired workplace habits, expectations, and methods of behavior into their homes and out into the larger society, thus precipitating cultural shifts.)

Going beyond “Transgender 101” and taking more comprehensive steps toward the full inclusion of transgender individuals is proving to be an excellent approach for organizations that seek to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. I help propel this strategy forward by providing expert transgender-related consulting, strategy, and awareness training services to these forward-thinking organizations.

We’ve all heard that knowledge is power, but when it comes to transgender in the workplace, many of us are still uninformed–or even worse, misinformed–about this complex, multifaceted subject. In these challenging economic times, we need to learn more about topics that will allow us to grow and be more successful in our work. The more accurate information we have about the transgender phenomenon, the better equipped we will be to:

  • enhance our cultural competence and diversity initiatives;
  • improve recruitment and retention of top talent;
  • position our organizations as recognized diversity leaders within our industries and the larger community;
  • be aligned/compliant with federal, state, and local laws as they change and develop over time to become more protective of the rights of transgender citizens, thereby addressing and lessening the risk and not-inconsiderable expense of discrimination lawsuits.

Come join me at the Forum to learn more about transgender inclusion, or visit my website,, for further information.

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