Within the realm of diversity and inclusion, there remains little research investigating how organizations can support and advocate for transgender employees. One such supporting mechanism is allyship, which refers to members of the dominant group who act as advocates for the marginalized group. However, there is still a lack of clarity around the factors that lead to allyship and the factors that stem from allyship.
SUPPORTING TRANSGENDER WORKERS
Researchers (Fletcher & Marvell, 2022) conducted two studies assessing perceptions of employees in the United Kingdom. Study one surveyed 209 heterosexual, cisgender employees. Participants reacted to a scenario involving a fictional coworker who has come out as trans and is changing aspects of their gender presentation at work. Allyship intentions were assessed with items such as, “I would stand up for this trans person to others in my organization.” In study two, 196 transgender employees took a survey on several factors, including perceived trans allyship, psychological safety, work engagement, and life satisfaction.
Results indicated that cisgender employees with a stronger social dominance orientation (or the belief in social hierarchy and group-based inequality) had lower intentions to act as trans allies. Importantly, this relationship was most pronounced when employees perceived that their workplace does not maintain a climate supportive of diversity and inclusion.
For transgender employees, the perception that their workplace has trans allies was related to increased psychological safety, which in turn was associated with greater work engagement. Further, perceptions of trans allyship was related to perceived authenticity in the workplace, which in turn was associated with greater life satisfaction.
PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS FOR ORGANIZATIONS
This research demonstrates that trans allyship relates to greater work engagement and life satisfaction for trans employees. This is because trans allies may help enable environments that are psychologically safe and provide a place where trans employees can be their authentic selves.
The authors recommend that organizations can support trans employees by establishing a work climate that supports diversity and inclusion. This may be achieved, in part, by reviewing HR policies and ensuring that inclusion and recruitment requirements fit the needs of trans employees. Including trans employees in the creation of these policies may ensure alignment with their needs. Providing clear anti-discrimination policies in the workplace (e.g., relating to dress code and family policies) may also help.
Fletcher, L., & Marvell, R. (2022). Furthering transgender inclusion in the workplace: advancing a new model of allyship intentions and perceptions. International Journal of Human Resource Management, January, 1–31.
Image credit: istockphoto/howtogoto