Is it Time for “Diversity” to Include Transgender Workers?

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Prominent computer chip maker Intel released a report today detailing its success in hiring a diverse set of applicants. It’s goal was for 40% of their hiring for 2015 to be what they call “diverse hiring”. The four groups included in this category are women, African-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics. The report, which announces that 43.1% of their 2015 hires were diverse, is written using a markedly congratulatory tone. It calls the 43.1% number “impressive” and trumpets “remarkable gains” in hiring.

I’ll let others discuss whether the 28% of their hires being female is “impressive” or whether an improvement over 27.3% last year could be deemed a “remarkable gain.”

I’m here to point out that workplace inclusion of transgender people is not even on the radar.

Yes, the four groups mentioned in the report continue to be victims of discrimination and worthy targets for diversity improvements at companies like Intel. Tracking the hiring numbers for those groups and posting goals against which those numbers are measured is a worthy pursuit and a necessary step in ensuring their inclusion. A key factor in improving economic opportunity is access to high quality jobs.

However, the same could be said of the transgender population. We are marginalized and face hiring discrimination at least at the rate seen by the four groups mentioned in the report. For example, the results of an investigation by the Washington D.C. Office of Human Rights, found that 48% of the time, a more qualified applicant was chosen over one perceived to be transgender. Improving access to employment is just as vital among our ranks.

Studies and initiatives like those at Intel are important. Anti-discrimination laws only go so far. Just as people of color have little recourse when their applications are rejected (how do you prove racism was the cause?), transgender people face those same obstacles. We send in a resume, perhaps even have an interview and submit to a background check. How can we show our rejection was due to our transition or gender presentation?

The solution now used by other groups is an affirmative action style accounting of hiring data. Are companies indeed hiring their share? The answer becomes obvious when numbers are available.

No such accounting exists for transgender people, at Intel or anywhere else. If we are to end discrimination effectively for transgender and gender non-conforming workers, we need to press employers to track those numbers as well.

How practical would that be? For a company like Intel, that hired on the order of 5,000 U.S. workers in 2015, the number of transgender and gender non-conforming workers expected could easily be calculated. It would be no problem to determine whether Intel was hiring as many as they should.

Civil rights activists learned decades ago that the only way to ensure employers are serious about minority hiring is to measure their progress and hold them accountable. Otherwise they get a lot of talk and no action.

For them, the Intel report is a triumph. A major corporation reports on numbers documenting their commitment to eliminating discrimination and hiring in such a way that achieves actual diversity rather than spurious claims.

Has the time come for transgender activists to demand the same? Are we ready to call out companies who are not tracking the number of transgender people they hire or whose statistics indicate lack of diligence in making sure that transgender and gender non-conforming applications are given a fair shake? Until we do, rampant discrimination against us will remain a serious problem.

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About Author

Suzi Chase writes about transgender issues through both fiction and non-fiction. She has had careers in teaching and software engineering and has raised two children.

3 Comments

  1. Just think though; being trans is bad enough, but being black and trans is on a whole other level of bad…..

    Though on a more positive note, I am thankful that I ran into a volunteer application yesterday for American Red Cross where “transgender” was an actual option….I kid you not. I literally sighed in relief and stared at it for a long time just taking it all in before I selected it.

  2. I work in Hillsboro Oregon which is *THE* main hub for Intel and friends and I agree that Intel is less that friendly when it comes to the transgender community. They need to get with it.

  3. Naomi Hoogeweij on

    I’m finding out this discrimination is very real. I’m self employed and have an internet business, mostly developing websites for governmental institutions, doing a lot of functional designing, project management and content management. Before I started transitioning last year, I never had to apply for an assignment, they came to me and was making lots of money. My last project was even nominated as website of the year in The Netherlands.

    Ever since I came out, I have to go out find assignments, but never get hired. I’m never told to my face it’s because I’m transgender, they invent other reasons like I’m “overqualified”.

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