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Amazon develops transgender resources for employees

Online retail giant Amazon has launched a pack of resources to its UK employees to help make the workplace a more inclusive environment for transgender people

Amazon has developed a set of transgender resources for employees to help transgender people, managers and co-workers feel more comfortable in the workplace.

The resources include best practice guidance for transgender employees, managers, co-workers and HR professionals on issues relating to transgender employees with the aim of creating a more supportive, inclusive and diverse work environment across the business.

Simon Johnson, director of media at Amazon, explained the tech firm focuses on diversity and inclusion to ensure the people developing its technology represent the “millions of customers who benefit from diversity of thought”.

“Diversity and inclusion is good for our business and our customers, and transgender employees are an important part of our team,” he said. “We hope with the new guidelines and support, every employee feels even more safe, valued and able to succeed based on the skills and contribution they bring to the business.”

It has been found that many young people who identify as LGBT+ have chosen not to go into the technology industry due to a fear of being discriminated against.

Research from LGBT+ rights charity Stonewall has also found that half of transgender employees have hidden that they are LGBT+ through fear of discrimination.

But Amazon wants employees to feel comfortable being their “whole selves” at work, and its best practice guidelines addresses using people’s preferred names and pronouns, accessibility to restrooms, dress code and employee privacy.

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Resources for transgender employees at Amazon include details on how to seek support, how to make a complaint if necessary and a frequently asked questions guide covering issues such as whether Amazon has an official transgender policy and if there is a list of places throughout the company that will need to be updated if a transition takes place.

Johnson pointed out the firm also provides support for employees who are transitioning, as well as mental health services for these employees and their dependents.

Many in the technology industry have highlighted the importance of allowing people to be their authentic selves at work, as it can help people to be more innovative and creative.

It is widely agreed more diverse teams provide better results, but hiring a diverse workforce goes hand in hand with inclusion practices which make employees feel they are safe to be themselves at work and are happy in the working environment.

Michael, a software development manager at Amazon’s development centre in Scotland, is currently undertaking a male-to-female transition and said the firm’s Transgender Toolkit was “invaluable” throughout the process.

“It provides comprehensive resources to answer some of the more common questions around names, pronouns and policies without my colleagues needing to worry about whether or not they were allowed to ask particular questions,” she said.

“This outward flow of information made it easy for them to understand the changes and how they would affect them without doubt and ambiguity, at their own pace.”

Educating employees

Amazon’s employee affinity group Glamazon, which has been educating the firm’s employees about LGBTQ+ issues since 1999, helped to develop Amazon’s Transgender Guidelines and Toolkit alongside other Amazon employees from across the company.

To make the process as easy as possible, there are adaptable “communications templates” available that are designed to help transgender employees approach their preferred point of contact and establish a communication plan, with the appropriate team outlining things such as when relevant changes need to happen, if and how co-workers should be made aware, and what updates need to be made to employee records.

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