A national firm employing nearly 3,000 people hopes a new diversity policy will help to attract and retain transgender staff.
Irwin Mitchell wants the policy, which addresses gender identity and expression, to ensure staff at its 13 offices ‘are free to be themselves at work’.
In 2015, the Law Society published a practice note on working with transgender employees. Challenges faced by transgender lawyers was highlighted in a Gazette roundtable this year.
Irwin Mitchell drafted the policy after reviewing its existing framework protecting and supporting employees. The policy states that ‘providing a working environment that is free from discrimination, harassment or victimisation because of gender identity is an important step in ensuring that transgender employees are respected and valued’.
The policy covers employees, contractors, temporary workers and job applicants. It highlights issues such as confidentiality rights to ensure privacy is respected, and acknowledges that the experience and needs of colleagues will vary between individuals.
Andrea Preston, director of human resources, said: ‘We take our responsibility as a role model business and employer very seriously. As our cultures and communities evolve, it’s important that we embrace these changes. We know that people produce better results when they can be themselves at work. We hope that by introducing this policy we will attract and retain transgender employees and support our managers in making the transgender community feel welcome at Irwin Mitchell.’
Meanwhile the prime minister, Theresa May, confirmed that responsibility for the Gender Recognition Act 2004 will immediately transfer from the Ministry of Justice to the Government Equalities Office.
The act gives trans people a way to have their gender legally recognised. However, Stonewall, a diversity charity, said the legislation is in ‘dire need of reform’. The government is expected to consult on the act before the end of the year.