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Listen carefully: transgender voices in the workplace

Alexandra Beauregard, T and Arevshatian, L and Booth, JE and Whittle, S (2016) Listen carefully: transgender voices in the workplace. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 27. ISSN 0958-5192

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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.

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