Best practices for managers and HR representatives
Employees who transition on the job can expect the support of management and HR staff, who will work with everyone to ensure a successful workplace transition. Managers play a key role in fostering dialogue and understanding in the workplace. You should aim to be a role model for building trust and respecting differences.
If you are an employee’s first point of contact, let them know that a support team can be established to assist in the transition and that their Human Resources consultant is prepared to be the main point of contact for the support team. Ask the employee’s permission to talk to HR for further assistance. Keep in mind that transition plans are unique to each individuals as is how open they want to be during the process.
Key Principles for Managers
- When a transgender employee notifies you of their plan to transition, keep in mind that it has taken a lot of courage for this employee to share this personal, life-changing decision with you. They may feel vulnerable.
- Affirm that the employee’s preferences will drive the planning and timing of the transition process.
- Be open-minded when discuss the transitioning individual’s needs and concerns. Ask for specific suggestions about how you can be helpful.
- Listen carefully to what the individual is telling you about how they’d like to be treated.
For example, do they want to keep their transition as quiet as possible or do they wish to celebrate publicly? Some transgender individuals are comfortable educating the public about transitioning and are eager to answer questions, and some are not.
- Seek education, for yourself and (as appropriate) your team; learn appropriate terminology related to gender expression and transition.
- Assure your employee that all discussions concerning gender identity and transition will be held in confidence and will be disclosed only on a need to know basis and with the employee’s consent.
- Individual feelings about sex and gender may raise strong emotions and discomfort; be prepared to assist your team by responding to concerns and directing them to appropriate resources.
Addressing concerns of colleagues
A diverse workplace means that employees must be able to work with all kinds of people. It is not required that they “believe in” or accept that an individual is transgender. Everyone is required to treat transgender employees, and all employees, with respect and without bias.
How your human resources consultant can help the transitioning employee’s manager
Managers are encouraged to contact their UWHR or Academic HR consultant about how best to support an employee that is transitioning. Together, the transitioning employee, their manager, and the HR consultant can work together to develop a workplace transition plan that honors the preferences of the employee.
The HR consultant can help:
- Determine whether education is appropriate for the department or workgroup and explore options;
- Navigate the administrative processes related to an employee’s identity change and provide information about relevant UW policies (e.g., leave of absence, discrimination/harassment);
- Provide support for leading change within the department/workgroup, including assisting with developing appropriate communications
- Engage other University or external resources when appropriate
- Guide the supervisor through the manager’s outline and checklist
- Respond to any workgroup concerns