Irwin Mitchell Publishes Guide For Employers
Leading law firm Irwin Mitchell has recently surveyed UK business leaders and line managers to find out if they feel confident in dealing with a grievance from a trans member of staff, or their surrounding team, about their treatment in the workplace.
The statistics show that 76% of people in leadership positions feel comfortable dealing with complaints, conversely however, 15% of managers highlighted that they wouldn’t be comfortable dealing with a complaint confidently from a trans member of staff, or from their team, about their treatment in the workplace. 9% said they’re prefer not to say.
The nationally representative survey results of 2049 people in a leadership role show;
- 15% of managers highlighted that they’re not confident dealing with a grievance either from or about a trans member of staff in the workplace
- North East of England has the highest number of leaders who wouldn’t be comfortable (20%)
- 20% of 25-34 year olds wouldn’t be confident dealing with a complaint
- Those who identify as male are less confident than females dealing with a complaint
- 10% of small business owners wouldn’t feel confident dealing with a complaint whilst 21% of those wishing to start a business wouldn’t be confident dealing with a complaint
- 30% of those working in business and finance wouldn’t feel confident dealing with a complaint
- 31% of those who work in finance/accounting wouldn’t feel confident dealing with a complaint
- 33% of those in a chairman/chairwoman position wouldn’t feel confident dealing with a complaint
Irwin Mitchell also wanted to find out the reason why people weren’t comfortable and asked them to explain their reasons. Some themes emerged: a lack of knowledge and training, not feeling equipped to deal with the situation, lack of real-life experience, never having managed trans staff before, difficulty around the subject, uncertainty over the law, not understanding the correct approach to take, anxiety about getting it wrong or saying the wrong thing and not having the correct knowledge or understanding the vocabulary to use.
The survey also asked for the reasons why people didn’t feel comfortable dealing with complaints about or from trans members of staff which led to responses: “People are far too ready to take offence”, “It’s a no-win situation, very one sided”, “Too old, and I was brought up in a different generation”, “Fear of offending the employee”, “Feels like a minefield”, “Lack of support from higher ups”, “Scared to use the wrong pronouns”.
Expert Opinion“It’s positive, although quite surprising based on the enquiries we have received, that so many business leaders are confident they could deal with a complaint about the treatment of trans employees in the workplace.
“It can be a polarising debate and I’m not surprised that those who aren’t confident about dealing with these types of issues, worry about causing offence. That’s where good diversity and inclusion training comes in. It should explain the language around this issue, for example what various terms mean and why they are important to trans people, challenge prejudices and encourage staff to accept and respect other people’s points of view, even if they are fundamentally different to their own.” Charlotte Rees-John, employment partner at Irwin Mitchell
Irwin Mitchell have put together a guide to help managers understand the law and feel more comfortable tackling issues that might arise in their workplaces. It discusses the legal framework, gender reassignment certificates, the types of harassment trans people may encounter at work and how to deal with employees who have different but equally protected beliefs. The guide is available here.