Even though UK law protects transgender workers from discrimination, a third of employers admit that they are “less likely” to hire a transgender person.
Although we are in 2018, and diversity if often celebrated in all walks of British life, a recent survey by Crossland Employment Solicitors illustrates the prejudice that is still ingrained in business leaders today.
Despite such marketing efforts of Nike and Primark, the survey identified the retail sector as having the highest number (47%) of businesses unlikely to employ a transgender.
This is closely followed by IT (45%), leisure and hospitality (35%) and manufacturing (34%).
Commenting on the findings, Beverley Sunderland, Managing Director of Crossland Employment Solicitors said: “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.”
Only 3% of business owners out 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.
Ashamedly only 4% declared that their working environment would be diverse enough people to “fit in”.
What is worse: The ignorance of the law or the employer?
When quizzed on which transgender characteristics are protected against discrimination, 77% of employers were wrong. Employers in the tech sector were the least knowledgeable, as 87% gave wrong answers.
A third of all employers polled thought that all transgender workers are legally protected against discrimination. When in fact, The Equalities Act 2010 only protects transsexuals (transgender people who propose to, are undergoing or have undergone medical “gender-reassignment” treatment) against discrimination.
However, disturbingly only 9% believe the law needs to change 59% are against the law extending to protect all types of transgenders from discrimination, such as non-binary and cisgender people.
Sunderland added: “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.
“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.”
Employers should take note that by directly not hiring a candidate because they are transgender breaks the law.
Ahead of London Pride 2018, Business Advice is publishing a series of articles celebrating the role of the LGBT+ community in UK workplaces and informing employers of best practice for inclusion.
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