Why It’s Important to Protect Employees Who Don’t Conform to Gender Stereotypes in the Workplace
Valuing Differences to Support Growth
Diversity leaders – ranging from CitiGroup, IBM, and JP Morgan Chase to Chevron, Microsoft, and Raytheon – have at least one thing in common: they have all found that diversity pays!
In today’s economy, the most strategic, conscious, goal-driven organizations will enjoy the most success. And to maintain their success, organizations must be able to constantly compete for the best talent. This means attracting the most diverse workforce with the broadest range of expertise and backgrounds – and then protecting and retaining that workforce.
Research continues to show that in today’s “knowledge economy,” the best and brightest workers are attracted to workplaces that are rich in difference, diversity, and respect for personal expression.
Employees who are free to be honest and open about who they are can put their full energy into their jobs. And when harassment and discrimination are absent from the workplace, employees are less likely to expend valuable company resources by taking sick days, engaging in internal disagreements, requesting transfers, or in the most severe circumstances, filing discrimination suits.
Organizations that value human differences will go beyond complying with Colorado state law when it comes to including sexual orientation in their employment discrimination policies. They will extend the same courtesy and respect to vendors, customers, volunteers, and contractors, guaranteeing that everyone who has dealings with the organization has fair and equal treatment.
What Organizations Have the Power to Do
A number of organizations have taken the initial step to secure rights for transgender people, and they should serve as models of change. By incorporating terms such as “gender identity” or “gender expression” into their organizational policies and practices, companies including, IBM, American Airlines, J.P. Morgan, Nike, Xerox, Lucent Technologies, Hewlett-Packard, and the United States Postal Service, have made strides toward protecting their diverse workforces, volunteers, customers, and all other people that nondiscrimination policies seek to protect.
By not including these important terms in organizational policies, employers threaten to perpetuate rather than eliminate the discrimination we seek to abolish. As a society, we can all work in cohesion to do away with discrimination against our fellow citizens.
Colorado’s Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA)
On May 25, 2007, Governor Bill Ritter signed Senate Bill 07-025, expanding Colorado’s employment nondiscrimination protections to include sexual orientation. This law defines sexual orientation as a person’s orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender status. In
Colorado, the law is applicable to employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, on-the-job training, and vocational training programs and schools. The law makes it unlawful to consider sexual orientation, gender identity or expression when making employment-related decisions and additionally makes it unlawful to make any inquiry about an applicant’s sexual orientation or gender expression.
In May 2008, the governor expanded these protections by passing the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, or Senate Bill 200, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status in housing and public accommodations.
This law prohibits unfair housing practices on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status. It applies to landlords, lessors, sellers, homeowner associations, lenders, real estate agencies, insurers, advertisers, cities, counties, government agencies, and others involved in showing, selling, renting, transferring, or leasing housing or residential real estate.
Covered public accommodations entities may not deny a gay or transgender person participation, entry, or services. A place of public accommodation is any place of business that offers sales or services of any kind to the public, or that offers facilities, privileges, advantages or other accommodations to the public, such as hotels, restaurants, stores, hospitals, clinics, and health clubs.