This is a fairly acceptable way to address teammates, regardless of gender. Right?
Well, it’s complicated.
In March, Viacom’s Talent Acquisition team invited employees to an event called Building Empathy and Awareness: Lessons from the Transgender Community. The session, which was held at both Viacom’s Times Square and Los Angeles offices, was a poignant exercise in reflection and understanding helmed by diversity consultants Marnie Florin and Kevin Perry. The event, which was aimed toward recruiters and hiring managers, broke down some of the issues and terms that are vital to understanding the transgender community: intersectionality, gender dysphoria, pronouns and advocacy, among others.
Viacom is a safe space, but how can it improve?
Florin and Perry explained further: Viacom scores 100 on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) index for workplace protections, including having trans-inclusive health benefits and diversity training (such as Lessons from the Transgender Community). However, the company is always seeking to improve its diversity and inclusion efforts.
“This is a victory for equality, for the LGBT community, for businesses at large, and for common sense.” – Rick Baker, Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs, on the successful ruling to protect LGBT workers under the Civil Rights Act. https://t.co/Zee03sDOFk pic.twitter.com/XRV3mYKCRy
— Viacom (@Viacom) February 27, 2018
Viacom is a longtime supporter of LGBT rights in the workplace.
At the New York session, Florin and Perry solicited questions from the audience about Viacom policies and overall TA best practices when it comes to hiring trans employees. Some situations, they explained, can still be difficult, even at progressive companies like Viacom.
As a cisgender woman, the following situations are not difficult: showing my ID at the desk when welcoming a guest; enjoying perks like the Wellness Studio workout classes; taking advantage of on-site massages or hairstyling; flying for business travel; using the restroom.
But for trans employees, these are situations that can cause anxiety, depression or downright terror.
Florin and Perry didn’t take too much time pointing out blind spots like this. Throughout the lecture they offered myriad facts and lists, but let the audience know that they could find more information online. The goal was to re-orient us to see our work lives through the eyes of a trans employee, and help us align ourselves to be an ally.