Diversity & InclusionEmployee Experience

Transgender Complaints Going Unanswered

Research finds that leaders need more education and resources to assist LGBTQ+ employees. 

By Zee Johnson 

An Irwin Mitchell study recently revealed that one in six managers and business leaders aren’t confident enough to deal with a complaint about a transgender employee’s treatment at work.  

The survey listed the following as the reasons behind managers’ worries when it came to handling complaints from trans staff.  

  • A lack of knowledge and training. 
  • Not feeling equipped to deal with the situation. 
  • Uncertainty over the law. 
  • Anxiety about saying the wrong thing. 

The survey comes just as a poll by NASUWT, a teacher’s union, found that 52% of LGBTQ+ teachers have experienced discrimination and abuse from colleagues and parents and say that their schools aren’t doing enough to combat this. Further, 26% of the group also feel that discrimination has worsened in the past three years, and only a third could say that their school had a zero-tolerance approach to homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.  On the other hand, just 14% could say that their school provides training on LGBTQ+ equality issues to senior management. 

But managers are open to making things right. Seventy-six per cent said they would feel comfortable dealing with these kinds of complaints, and Charlotte Rees-John, employment partner at Irwin Mitchell, said in the report that training could be the key to doing this. “That’s where good diversity and inclusion training comes in,” she said. “It should explain the language around this issue, for example what various terms mean and why they are important to trans people, challenge prejudices and encourage staff to accept and respect other people’s points of view, even if they are fundamentally different to their own.”  

Other survey findings include the following. 

  • 15% of managers would not feel confident dealing with a grievance either from or about a trans employees’ treatment at work. 
  • Females were more confident than males about handling a complaint 
  • 33% of people in chairman/chairwoman positions would not feel comfortable dealing with a grievance about the treatment of a transgender employee. 


Tags: Diversity & Inclusion, EMEA May 2023, EMEA News, Employee/Candidate Experience, LGBTQ+

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