Transgender voices author copy.pdf - Please cite as...

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Please cite as: Beauregard, T. A., Arevshatian, L., Booth, J. E., & Whittle, S. (2016). Listen carefully: Transgender voices in the workplace. International Journal of Human Resource Management , doi: 10.1080/09585192.2016.1234503. Abstract We find that only 17% of FTSE 100 company websites refer directly to transgender (‘trans’) individuals, illustrating the extent to which trans voices are unheard in the workplace. We propose that these voices are missing for a number of reasons: voluntary silence to protect oneself from adverse circumstances; the subsumption of trans voices within the larger ‘LGBT’ community; assimilation, wherein many trans voices become affiliated with those of their post-transition gender; multiple trans voices arising from diversity within the transgender community; and limited access to voice mechanisms for transgender employees. We identify the negative implications of being unheard for individual trans employees, for organizational outcomes, and for business and management scholarship, and propose ways in which organizations can listen more carefully to trans voices. Finally, we introduce an agenda for future research that tests the applicability of the theoretical framework of invisible stigma disclosure to transgender individuals, and calls for new theoretical and empirical developments to identify HRM challenges and best practices for respecting trans employees and their choices to remain silent or be heard. Key words: Transgender LGBT Voice Silence Diversity
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Introduction “I was never going to become a beautiful, passable woman, and I was never going to be a man. It’s a quandary. But the trans condition is a beautiful mystery” - Anohni (Beaumont-Thomas, 2016, p. 9) Despite the increasing public presence of transgender (or ‘trans’) individuals in entertainment and media settings, and growing protective legislation, the world of business and management has not yet followed suit in paying greater attention to the needs of transgender employees. This is particularly the case in the United Kingdom (UK), where trans individuals are rarely mentioned in organizations’ diversity policies or statements. A review of FTSE 100 firms’ annual reports by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) network OUTstanding demonstrates that 80% of these top UK firms do not have specific non-discrimination policies for transgender staff (Bentley, 2015). The business and management research literature largely echoes this silence, in both the UK and the US, and elsewhere (Collins, McFadden, Rocco, & Mathis, 2015; Ozturk & Tatli, 2015). This invisibility of the trans population in both organizational communications and business and management literature results in inaudibility. The goal of this paper is to explore the reasons why these voices are unheard, and the implications of not hearing them. By examining the content of the FTSE 100 companies’ websites, the paper first illustrates the extent to which trans voices are unheard in UK-listed firms, before theorizing why this is the case. Lack of voice is usually attributed to lack of
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