The latest from Zego who aim to make the workplace a more inclusive place for people who identify as transgender.
Commercial motor insurance provider Zego has introduced a robust workplace policy to support Trans and Non-Binary employees, outlining the company’s clear position and commitment to supporting Trans and Non-Binary employees.
Coinciding with the worldwide Pride celebrations, it sets out a code of inclusion and belonging for Trans and Non-Binary employees; an outline of supportive measures for transitioning employees; and guidance on appropriate conduct and language in the workplace. For the latter, Zego has folllowed Stonewall’s approach of adopting Trans as an umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.
Detailed policy elements include a commitment to providing unisex facilities where in Zego’s authority, freedom to express oneself through no dress code, plus, unlimited therapy sessions for a minimum of six months, and, paid leave to support any member of staff pursuing medical transition. Zego also commits to supporting the employee to define their own personalised internal transition plan to support their journey at a pace and style to suit them.
The launch of Zego’s new policy follows the recent introduction of paid leave for employees who suffer pregnancy loss and is part of a wider commitment to create a highly diverse, inclusive and supportive working environment where all employees can belong and flourish.
Following Pride season, Zego will also be hosting a panel event entitled, ‘#MoreThanAMonth – Why Trans and Non-Binary Issues Matter’, on Tuesday 6 July, focusing on the some of the ongoing issues faced by these communities. Panellists will include renowned human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, representatives from LGBTQ+ charities including Mermaids and Global Butterflies, and trans model, Alexis Meshida. To get a free ticket for the virtual event, register here.
Kingsley Macy, Chief People Officer at Zego, said: “This policy enshrines our inclusive beliefs and commitment to the trans and non-binary community and is an important milestone in the company’s history. We are very pleased to be one of the few companies to offer such a policy and we will be working very closely with our employees behind the scenes to ensure that they are all fully up to speed on the policy.
Diversity and inclusion have been essential ingredients in Zego’s story and our success to date which has helped us to approach age-old problems in new ways. I hope this encourages other companies to follow suit.”
The trans vs terfs war on social media is rather like Israel vs Hamas without the rocket attacks. Neither side is willing to compromise very much and although an uneasy truce may exist at times, the war will continue. Both sides agree on that point.
By choosing a side Zego – and other insurance brands – may live to regret becoming the thought police and backing Stonewall on this issue. Their press release clearly states that they will offer “guidance” on speech, in tandem with Stonewall, although their PR told IE mag;
“Zego definitely won’t be policing opinions – it’s more about letting trans people know they will have a supportive work environment and that any bullying wouldn’t be tolerated.”
That is a laudable aim, but the bitter disputes online tend to spill over into the workplace in 2021. The Maya Forstater case highlights how these arguments over language and opinions can end up in court, and on the front page of various websites and even gain coverage on mainstream TV media.
In that case, Maya Forstater was `let go’ after expressing a view on biological gender that Stonewall – and others – disagreed with, very strongly. After losing an Employment Tribunal she fought a court case and won. The principle of free speech and holding an opinion on biology was – surprisingly – upheld. There is some background on the case in Pink News here by the way.
WHO WANTS TO WRITE A WORKPLACE ACCEPTABLE SPEECH POLICY? ANYONE…ANYONE?
Zego and other insurance companies must tread carefully in terms of HR policy and virtuous mission statements, because denying the antiquated notion of gender being assigned at birth, or women having periods not men, is right at the heart of the trans activists campaign. An individual’s belief in gender must always trump any type of science, it must always take priority as regards any language being spoken and no dissent will be tolerated. That’s the position.
Many women feel unsettled, or afraid, when transwomen, who were previously men, enter their changing rooms or toilets in the workplace. You may think they are some kind of Nazis for thinking that, or worse still, actually saying that out loud. Others might agree with the feminist viewpoint that women deserve safe spaces. And those safe spaces include speech; some women want to say that only biological women have periods, end of story. So how do you police people expressing an opinion like that, which Stonewall says is offensive? Formal warnings, demotion, separate work areas – the whole thing is a minefield of hurt feelings and offence being taken on a daily basis.
This woke ideology of playing Victim Card Top Trumps may be progressive, but it is also a tricky balancing act. For example, which group wins the argument between Sunni muslims and transgender persons in the workplace, when one person decides they aren’t working with another because they find their very presence disagreeable? Whose rights are ultimately deemed more important?
IE magazine has no idea because we believe everyone is equal and no group, or activist, has the right to shout down the opinions of others, or demand their dismissal, because they hold `the wrong opinions.’ Free speech is like pregnancy, you either have that state, or you don’t – there is no halfway position.
PROGRESS IS ADMIRABLE, SILENCING EMPLOYEES LESS SO
Once that workplace trans/terf dispute spills over into the public domain you then have a PR challenge in managing the debate and potential customer boycotts, protests and so on. Free speech and the language of gender politics is going to cause big problems for insurers and brokers in the near future – just look at the 1990s dropdown salutation menus on most websites; Mr/Mrs/Ms/Dr – really, those are your only options?
Progress obviously needs to be made on genuinely inclusive workplaces – it’s only a decade since insurance offices had a dresscode akin to a Marriott hotel reception and most senior managers were white guys in Next suits. But if companies are going to act as arbiters of speech and opinion in the workplace, then prepare to reap the whirlwind, and the legal/tribunal costs, because this culture war is just getting started. It will get much, much worse, before it gets better.