It is obvious that there are quite a number of American companies that have failed to train their management teams to address issues emanating from employees who are transgendered. Whereas the transgendered, gay, and lesbian employees deserve to be treated fairly just like the other heterosexual counterparts, there seems to be a gap when these types of employees are handled by various management teams at the workplace. It is also vital to note that the public has quite often misunderstood the transgender and gay individuals in society. They have been treated with little respect and dignity bearing in mind that they challenge the ordinary and conventional gender roles. As a result, they are susceptible to being discriminated against and oppressed in different locations such as places of work. Nonetheless, it is profound to note that the main missing link emanates from business managers since they are not prepared by their companies on how to handle transgender employees in the workplace. Worse still, they do not have a well-built capacity to handle gays at the workplace.
Discrimination at workplaces
American firms have not managed to provide sufficient protection to employees who are transgendered, gay, or lesbians. Even though there are existing legislations that have been put in place so that the basic rights of these individuals can be safeguarded, individual companies and business entities have the sole responsibility or ethical mandate to take their human resource managers through capacity building and training. As it stands now, there are myriads of transgendered employees who are facing various forms of sexual assault and discrimination at the workplace. Burns and Krehely (par. 3) are quite categorical that discrimination against employees who are gay and transgendered is still rife as depicted by some latest empirical research studies on employee welfare management. The researchers identified that between 15% and 43% of all the gay and transgendered employees at various workplaces were at high risk of facing sexual harassment and discrimination at the workplace. To make the matter worse, up to 90% of transgendered employees have at least faced some form of sexual or verbal abuse while at their place of work.
From this background, it is definite that workers who are gay and transgendered are undergoing tough workplace challenges even though their services are equally needed just like their heterosexual counterparts.
One of the interesting outcomes to note from the study is that even though gays and lesbians face similar harassment and discrimination at places of work, the transgendered individuals bear the most brunt. Overall, it has become a widespread and common challenge for individuals who are non-conforming to be assaulted. It is high time the management teams were well equipped with effective management skills of employees who fall under these categories.
Manifestations of harassment at the workplace
Most of the studies carried out on harassment at the workplace tend to address companies that have failed to put proactive measures in place. It is prudent to underscore the fact that other jurisdictions have also enacted Sex Discrimination Acts that address the overall concepts of gender and sexual harassment at the workplace. For example, the Employment Equality legislation was enacted by the United Kingdom in 2005 in order to take care of sexual harassment cases that were rampant at workplaces. Similar legislations have been adopted in the United States even though they seem not to exclusively point out the welfare of transgendered employees as well as gays and lesbians. Most of the legislations are very loud on gender and sexual abuse at the workplace but rather silent on employees who are not heterosexual. If individual companies will not fully equip their managers on this area of concern, then the well-being of transgendered, gay, and lesbian workers will not be taken care of.
In regards to sexual harassment Acts that are currently operational in various countries and states, there is an urgent need to revisit these legislations and conduct the much-needed amendments so that the worst affected transgendered employees can breathe a sigh of relief. In other words, sexual harassment at various places of work should not be constrained to only mean undignified acts that demean personal worth. The definition should be broad enough to incorporate any form of violent or discriminative act that interferes with the comfort and smooth working environment of a transgendered, gay, or lesbian individual. Perhaps, the old pieces of legislation did not capture the likely challenges that gays, lesbians, and transgendered employees would undergo in the future.
It is fundamental to appreciate elements of gender and sexual harassment and how they are discerned in various workplace situations. Better still, discrimination against employees who are transgendered, gay, or lesbian should be given equal weight or concern as those who are assaulted based on their gender or sexual orientation. A hostile working environment that does not uphold the dignity and personal worth of all employees should not be allowed to flourish at all. From various case studies on harassment and discrimination of employees who are gays, lesbians, or transgendered, the nature of management in place has been the main source of blame. For instance, the mode of approaching emerging cases of employees who alter their sexual orientation is a critical area of concern. Some management teams often opt to remain silent and consequently allow confusion to reign among other employees. On the other hand, there are others who approach such cases in the wrong way altogether to an extent that the affected individual withdraws completely due to embarrassment at the workplace.
The Department of Trade and Industry carried out an empirical t survey in the United Kingdom in order to find out poor treatment as well as sexual discrimination and bullying of employees in various places of work (Rutherford, Schneider and Walmsley 7). The research study entailed face-to-face interviews of 3,936 employees. It took a period of about three months to complete the study. From the research findings, 0.9% of the employees who took part in the survey had undergone various forms of sexual harassment and discrimination at the workplace. The outcome of the survey also revealed that female employees who were either lesbians or transgendered faced more instances of discrimination than their fellow male workers. In addition, most transgendered employees who doubled up as disabled or incapacitated faced additional and more severe workplace challenges.
From the above survey, it is palpable that the myriads of workplace challenges faced by transgendered, gay, and lesbian employees are mainly occasioned by management teams that are not yet fully equipped or prepared to handle emerging cases. If workplace harmony among employees is not firm, then even the productivity of employees will be significantly affected. A case study of the firms in the EOR survey of 2002 disclosed that over 60% of all the companies that were investigated had put in place employee monitoring procedures. This appears to be a clear step towards eliminating the negative perception that other employees may have against transgendered, lesbian, or gay workers.
As already mentioned, discrimination against transgendered employees is not confined to their sexual orientation per se. Several recent studies have concluded that employees of this nature are also discriminated against in terms of wages and salaries at the workplace. According to the quantitative study conducted by Burns and Krehely (par.2), there are momentous wage differences between heterosexual employees and those who fall under the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) category. LGBT workers earn relatively less than the other employees who are straight in terms of sexual orientation. The only inconsistency noted in regards to this argument is that the lesbians earned fairly well just like the heterosexual workers. This can be attributed to the fact that lesbians cannot be easily identified at the workplace compared to gays and transgendered workers.
There are numerous gay and transgendered employees who claim that they have learned to acquaint themselves with various acts of discrimination at the workplace. In some instances, the non-conforming employees assert that most of the elements of harassment and discrimination emanate from their fellow workers and not necessarily from the management teams.
Whereas the latter assertion may be the case as documented by some research studies, it is imperative to mention that managers and supervisors in organizations still have the sole mandate of setting the pace and required ethical standards especially in regards to relationship building among employees. Additionally, it is crucial for researchers and the target audience to recognize that research outcomes might vary decisively depending on the population surveyed, geographical location, and the type of industry under investigation. There are management policies that may be tagged on protectionist ideals. While such policies may appear decent and effective in managing people and organizations, some past research studies have indicated that such policy guidelines tend to prohibit positive relationship building and also increase sexual segregation at the workplace (Zippel 193). Hence, it is fundamental for companies to instigate policies that empower and encourage the resistance of sexual discrimination by officially supporting victims and putting in place the unconditional retribution of perpetrators. Workplaces with explicit official guidelines on sexual harassment and discrimination may easily embrace a proactive approach. By so doing, challenges related to sexual harassment are minimized
To recap it all, it is crucial to reiterate that fair treatment of all employees should be a prerequisite at the workplace in spite of gender non-conformity, personal tastes, preferences, values, religion, or sexual orientation. As much as fellow employees have been blamed for rising cases of workplace harassment against workers who fall under the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) category, there is a gross failure among managers and supervisors. The latter is supposed to be well equipped and prepared to address all the emerging cases of workplace discrimination. This should also be done in the most effective and professional manner in order to avoid infringing the rights of the victim. As it stands now, there are several transgendered, gay, and lesbian employees who operate under intense fear and intimidation since they may be assaulted, harassed, discriminated, or dismissed from employment at any time.
Burns, Crosby, and Jeff Krehely. Gay and Transgender People Face High Rates of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment. 2011. Web.
Rutherford Sarah, Robin Schneider, and Alexis Walmsley. Agreement on preventing and Dealing Effectively with Sexual Harassment: Quantitative and Qualitative Research into Sexual Harassment in the Armed Forces. London: Ministry of Defence/Equal Opportunities Commission, 2006. Print.
Zippel, Kathrin. “Practices of implementation of sexual harassment policies: individual versus collective strategies.” Review of Policy Research 20.1(2003): 175-197. Print.