Trans ambassador Katie Neeves on the importance of inclusion in the workplace

Amid staggering statistics of UK businesses failing trans employees, Katie Neeves discusses how to create inclusion in the workplace.

The image shows Katie Neeves who discusses trans inclusion in the workplace in this article. In the image she is standing in front of a podium delivering a speech. She is wearing a red sleeveless dress with a v neck front.
Image: @cool2btrans via Instagram

Katie Neeves, spokesperson for Cool2BTrans, spoke to James A Dawson about the lack of supports for trans people in the workplace and how businesses can develop simple inclusion policies to welcome and encourage trans employees.

Trans is the topic of our time. The growing prominence of influential trans and non-binary figures like Caitlyn Jenner, Sam Smith and Kim Petras have captured the public interest.

Some in the trans community have welcomed the increased awareness, and, in the wake of this year’s Pride month, it’s the perfect time to delve into the challenges that trans people face in the workplace and explore how businesses can learn to remove the barriers that many still continue to face and encourage inclusion. 

I interviewed Katie Neeves, a renowned trans ambassador, global inspirational speaker and trans awareness trainer, to gain insights into the daily challenges trans people encounter and discover ways companies and individuals can promote positive change.

Employers are increasingly waking up to the fact that a happy staff is a productive staff. From local businesses to global megacorps, many companies have shown real commitment to LGBTQ+ staff, customers and clients. 

However, many LGBTQ+ people still feel as though they are not sufficiently supported by their employers – especially trans people. According to a 2018 survey by Crossland Solicitors, only 2% of employers offered transitioning at work policies or gender-neutral toilets, while just 12% had a zero-tolerance policy on transphobic bullying and harassment. That same study found that a shocking 1 in 3 employers admitted that they were less likely to hire a transgender person. 

“You may be shocked by that ratio. I’m actually shocked it isn’t higher – most of my trans friends have struggled to get work. I don’t think it’s so much that employers are transphobic or trans hostile, I just think that the subject is too hot to handle and they’d rather not touch it,” said Katie. 



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A post shared by Katie Neeves (@cool2btrans)

Indeed, the UK government’s national survey of LGBTQ+ people in 2017 found that trans men (57%) and trans women (65%) were significantly less likely than the wider LGBTQ+ population (80%) to have had paid employment in the year prior. Additionally, 18% of respondents looking for work reported discrimination based on their sexual or gender identity and 30% were not open with senior colleagues and 57% with customers/clients. 

Katie refers to this reluctance to be out as living in ‘stealth mode’: “Most people haven’t knowingly met a trans person. They will have met loads, yes, but they won’t have always realised it because so many trans people live in what we call ‘stealth mode’.” 

The reasons for living in stealth mode are many, but Stonewall found that discrimination still abounds for trans people:

  • 12% of trans people have been physically attacked by customers or colleagues due to being trans
  • 34% of trans people were excluded by colleagues in the previous year
  • 15% of trans people are still not addressed with their preferred name and pronouns while at work
  • 24% of trans people were passed up for promotion at work in the year prior 

With the number of trans and gender non-conforming people doubling every generation, these issues need to be addressed sooner rather than later. The question, then, is what business owners and colleague allies can do to create more inclusion and support for trans people in the workplace. 

Katie suggests that the way to start is by developing an open, understanding attitude towards those seeking to transition while at work. This can be done by providing paid leave for medical appointments and introducing explicit injunctions against anti-trans discrimination and harassment into company policy. 


A flexible dress code – without being unisex – allows trans employees to feel comfortable in what they wear, while statements of trans-inclusivity on job adverts and websites will show potential employees that the business is committed to creating a welcoming atmosphere. Companies can also look into anonymised application processes, which are proven to reduce discrimination in hiring decisions across the board.

Constructing a gender-neutral lavatory space is another great way to accommodate trans people. As Katie says, this need not be costly: “(it can be as simple as) changing the signs on the doors. One says cubicles, the other says cubicles and urinals”. This simple bit of ingenious ‘rebranding’ can make sure that all members of staff, not just trans people, feel catered for, and at a negligible cost. 

Companies should also consider implementing mentorship programs for trans staff who need extra support during the transitioning process. In order to measure progress, businesses could also extend GDPR regulations to collect anonymous data for analysis.

In addition to these structural changes, there are also small measures people can take. Encouraging everyone to include their preferred pronouns in email signatures and social media profiles helps validate gender non-conforming identities. Employers can also create Pride groups or events and incorporate representation into main events throughout the year instead of just during Pride month.

The benefits of bringing trans people into the workforce are manifold, from bringing a unique perspective to the business to, as Katie puts it, a sense of loyalty like no other: “Given the chance to succeed, most trans people would give 100% to their employers, because absolutely, as a trans person, if you find a supportive employer, why on earth would you put yourself through all the anxiety of applying for (another) job?”

Moreover, studies by McKinsey & Company suggest that companies with diverse executive teams are 15% more likely to be profitable, and an accepting, trans-inclusive environment can lead to an improved reputation, enhanced creativity, better problem-solving skills and decision making as well as lower staff turnover rates. As Katie says, “It’s time to get with the program”.

Thanks to James A Dawson, Content Manager with HR:4UK and to Katie Neeves of

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