Trans Awareness – Promoting Proactive Inclusion

Trans Awareness – Promoting Proactive Inclusion

Trans Awareness Week

So it’s Trans Awareness Week this week, and International Men’s Day on the 19th of November. 

I talked about the importance of International Men’s Day a few months ago and encouraged more people and organisations to recognise this day. 

So, in deciding my focus for my blog this week, I’ve decided to focus on Trans Awareness.

Gender equality goes beyond just acceptance; it’s about creating an environment where everyone, regardless of their gender identity, feels valued, respected, and comfortable.

Often, we see organisations making accommodations only when a trans person joins the team. While these adjustments are crucial, we should strive to change the system before someone of a different background arrives. 

This proactive approach is a powerful demonstration of our commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace.

By taking these steps in advance, we can ensure that our workplaces welcome all individuals, regardless of their gender identity, from day one. 

It’s about challenging norms and stereotypes, reevaluating policies, and creating a culture that supports everyone, regardless of where they fall on the gender spectrum.

Here are a few ways we can promote proactive inclusion:

Training and Education: Invest in training and educational programs that raise awareness about different gender identities and experiences. This will help to dispel misconceptions and create a more informed and empathetic workforce. Done well, these programs occur irrespective of how many employees identify this way. Done badly, they can come across as “Riley uses they/them pronouns, so now we need to do this training.”

Policy Review: Regularly review and update your workplace policies to ensure they are inclusive and sensitive to the needs of all genders. Ensure that gender-neutral language is used and that accommodations are readily available. Done well, you are engaging expertise in this area (remember “nothing about us, with us”). Done badly, you are relying solely on the cisgender voices that you already hear a lot from.

Listening and Feedback: Create a platform where employees can provide feedback and raise concerns about gender-related issues. This feedback should be actively used to make necessary improvements. Done well, it should incorporate respectful conversations and inclusive decision-making. Done badly, it can become a fight about who’s concerns matter more. 

Visibility and Representation: Encourage trans individuals to share their stories and experiences, fostering greater understanding among employees. Done well, you pay for a speaker who wants to speak on this topic and share their experience. Done badly, you coerce the trans person in the team to speak on behalf of their community (when they perhaps don’t want to).

Let’s seek to build workplaces that are not only welcoming but also proactive in their efforts to embrace all gender identities. 

By making these changes beforehand, we can pave the way for a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse future.  

Pay Transparency

Pay Transparency

Pay Transparency to reduce disparity.

For a lot of organisations, this is the time of the year performance for the previous year gets recognised and bonuses and pay increases are awarded.

While progress has been made, there are still disparities between the earning potential and performance recognition of men and women.

I choose to believe that in the majority of organisations, inequality and gender pay gap issues are unintentional.

I choose to believe that enough organisations have come to recognise gender inequality within remuneration as an issue and have taken action to address the obvious issues.

However disparity still exists, and that is why we need to focus on some of the things that well-intended organisations can unknowingly do.

  1. Biased performance evaluations, even if unintentional, can lead to differences in salary adjustments and promotions. Assertiveness and overconfidence tend to benefit men more than women in overcoming performance issues.
  2. Negotiations: Men and women may approach salary negotiations differently. Research suggests that men are more likely to negotiate aggressively for higher pay, while women may feel uncomfortable or may be penalised for doing the same. This can lead to differences in starting salaries and pay raises over time.
  3. Lack of transparency: Organisations that do not openly discuss pay scales and salary ranges may inadvertently perpetuate pay disparities. Employees might not be aware of discrepancies, and this lack of transparency can make it challenging to address and rectify any inequities.
  4. Pay History: Basing salary offers on an employee’s previous pay history can perpetuate past gender pay gaps and exacerbate existing disparities, even if unintentional.

One powerful approach to addressing this issue is through pay and performance transparency within teams.

Sharing details of what people earn, as well as how they have performed, seems to be regarded as a faux pas, but why?

Reasoning tends to focus on protecting the privacy of underperformers, and those who are the lowest earners.

I agree with that reasoning, but what about transparency at the top end?

By openly sharing information about top performers’ salaries and achievements, organisations can foster a culture of accountability and consequently, greater equality.

Transparency as a Benchmarking Tool

Sharing information about the highest earners and top performers within teams enables individuals to benchmark their own progress and career advancement. By knowing what it takes to be at the top, employees can set realistic goals and devise strategies to achieve excellence.

This is especially crucial for women who, despite having the skills and competence, might have lacked the information or confidence to aim for top positions.

Motivation to Excel

Transparency can be a powerful motivational tool. When employees are aware of the potential rewards for outstanding performance, they are inspired to put in their best efforts. This motivation transcends gender boundaries and propels everyone to strive for greatness. By creating a meritocracy, transparency ensures that hard work and dedication are recognised, irrespective of gender.

A Shift in Organisational Culture

Embracing transparency represents a significant shift in organisational culture. It demonstrates a commitment to fairness, equality, and empowering all team members. This cultural transformation attracts diverse talent and promotes an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and encouraged to participate actively.

Some Humble Pie for the Over-Confident

The impact of disclosing the pay and performance ratings of top performers could also result in some humility at this top end and maybe the dose of reality that those keen negotiators need.

Some might express concerns about sharing salary and performance data, fearing that it could lead to resentment or negative competition.

However, transparency does not mean exposing every employee’s information. Instead, it focuses on sharing the success stories and accomplishments of top performers, allowing others to learn from their experiences and emulate their strategies.

Ideally, if the organisation is being fair, and equitable and basing its decisions on merit, then there shouldn’t be an issue. Everyone should be able to see the evidence for themselves and come to a similar conclusion that those top performers deserve their higher salaries.

If that isn’t the case, then perhaps it’s actually exposed the underlying biases and inequality within the process. I’d count that as a win, albeit an uncomfortable truth for some organisations to swallow.

Pay and performance transparency is not a magical solution, but it represents a crucial step towards achieving gender equality in the workplace.

By sharing who earns the most within teams and celebrating top performers, organisations create an environment that values merit, dedication, and talent above all else.

These are things that most organisations think they do already, but we know that can often be just rhetoric.

How many circles do you see in the image below?

How many circles do you see in the image below?

It is not a trick – there are actually 16 circles.

Look again.

When you see them – trust me – it’ll be all you can see.

I stumbled across this optical illusion – it’s called a Coffer Illusion. (You can search for it if, like many people, you still can’t see the circles and want further help).

It took me ages to see the circles, and then they appeared – as plain as the rectangles and lines that I was seeing before.

This is a great way to think about our privilege.

When we have it, we can’t see it.

Others will tell us that barriers exist for those without certain privileges, but when we have privileges – we don’t see them.

And because we can’t see them – we arrogantly determine that they don’t exist.

We may even think that others are making it up.

Well, it’s there. So are the circles.

And just like with privilege, when we spend long enough looking for what others can so plainly see, eventually we will see it.

And eventually, that’ll be all we can see.

And instead of questioning their existence in the first place, we will wonder why we never saw it before.

And now that we see it, we take action.

Bloke Coaching is a program to help men understand male privilege, patriarchy and prejudice, and be proactive in driving gender equality.

My clients consistently report that once they become aware and see the obstacles, see the microaggressions, see the privilege – they can’t unsee it.

They see it in the media, they see it in movies and tv shows, they see it in restaurants. 

They see it when on public transport, when they are in meetings, in playgrounds and at school. 

They see it at home.

The reality is that, unfortunately, until you actually start seeing it, you aren’t going to be nearly as effective as you think you are at tackling it.

Intention Bias vs Judging Behaviour

Intention Bias vs Judging Behaviour

There is a hypocrisy most of us struggle with.

Intentions and behaviour are legitimate ways to evaluate human conduct.

The problem is that we are conveniently biased towards intentions when considering ourselves, and towards behaviour when evaluating other people.

We trust our own intentions – because we know ourselves pretty well. Not perfectly (but that’s a whole other topic).

Because we can’t see or feel the inner working of another’s mind, then we judge someone by what we can see – their behaviour.

Both intentions and behaviours are important and so the challenge is we need to apply them more uniformly.

Rarely would someone intend to reverse into someone else’s car. But focusing on our intent can limit us from taking responsibility for our behaviour. Despite my intentions, I did reverse into their car. So I’ll take responsibility, apologise and pay for the damages rather than drive away.

While intentions are important, they don’t atone for all behaviour.

“I didn’t mean for that comment to be sexist.”

Does our intention matter? Yes, but again rarely would someone intend to be sexist.

Even if we get feedback from the world – “That was a bit sexist” or “that was very sexist” or “We only have 27% women in leadership roles”, we have a tendency to place undue emphasis on our own intentions.

This limits us from taking responsibility for the ‘impact’ of our behaviour, or how these behaviours are contributing to the problem.

BlokeCoaching is a program for male executives within organisations to understand more about the behaviours that perpetuate gender inequality, take responsibility, and work to fix the system.

For most of us, we do not intend to be sexist. Yet it’s difficult for us to ignore that there is a problem that hasn’t gone away. The feedback is that there is still a lot of work to be done.

We all need to start taking responsibility.

And not drive off.

Would you buy your son a pram?

Would you buy your son a pram?

When my son turned 4, we bought him a pram.

It was one of three things that he really wanted, and he had mentioned it frequently in the lead-up to his birthday.

Interestingly, I found myself evaluating and re-evaluating my gender biases. It revealed about me, to myself.

A lot of which I’m not proud of, especially considering one of the reasons my son wanted a pram was to ‘be like daddy’. Shouldn’t this gift have been a no-brainer?

Seeing how much joy it’s brought him, I don’t regret the decision for a moment. I’m ashamed that I had any second thoughts in the first place.

I’m ashamed of my hang-ups, but it’s helping me to grow, and challenge the biases that are still entrenched.

I’m proud of my son, and he gives me lots of hope that his generation won’t face some of the stereotypical gender expectations and stigma that my generation does.

As a kid, I would have never asked for the pram. Probably my dad would never have bought me one.

That’s progress.

Here of some of my learnings and reflections from the weekend:

– It’s actually very hard to buy a non-pink pram. The toy manufacturers really aren’t helping with this. But we did manage the find a green pram, even with a boy on the front. Representation matters. ‘What’s wrong with pink for a boy?’ you may ask. (Well, that’s a whole other post and discussion).

– A LOT of people (family, friends and strangers) felt the need to query “Did you buy him a pram for his birthday?” They didn’t ask this question about the other presents. My mother in las actually asked this question as my son opened the present in front of us. No one asked this question about his other gifts.

– I found myself being drawn into responding to this query with “Yes, it’s what he really wanted” as if I needed to defend our choice. Or “Yes, but we also got him a bike” (I can’t believe I felt the need to say that). Thankfully, I did stop myself at “Yes.”

– I found myself needing to summon the strength to take the pram with us to the park. Which is massively ironic considering I was taking a pram with his younger sister. I was fearful of the looks, the questions and the judgements. But I left my hangups at home and strolled proudly to the park. Prams side by side on the footpath. We had a lot of fun.

– His older brother and he fought over the pram and the baby doll at the park. And my eldest son (6) actually got quite upset that the birthday boy wasn’t sharing and he wasn’t getting a turn.

Perhaps, deep down, every boy wants a pram.