‘We’re real people’ | Are you guilty of 'transwashing'?

Are you guilty of 'transwashing'?

Deep Dive

In recent years, employer brand has become just as important as an organisation’s overall brand, with companies like Glassdoor rising in popularity for jobseekers. Research by Randstad USA shows that 57% of top talent won’t even consider working for or applying for a job with a company that has negative online employer reviews.

And with Gen Z leading the charge when it comes to seeking only to work for companies which match their values and have a strong set of ethics and general ESG, the rise of faux activism from companies has become rife. For example, plenty of businesses fly the rainbow flag high, whether they are considered a fair place to work for queer people or not. Similarly, many companies have come under fire recently for ‘greenwashing’, a term that means giving more a lot of airtime to environmental concerns, but not matching them up with actions. ASOS, Asda and Boohoo are just a few who have come under fire for that practice in the past few months.

Transwashing is not only hurtful to transgender and non-binary people, but it can also be damaging to businesses.

And now there’s a new ‘they’re duping us again’ kid in town: transwashing. What is it and how can we avoid it? HR Grapevine leaves you, dear reader, in the capable hands of D&I specialist consultant Joanne Lockwood – because trans stories should be told by trans people!

The negative effects of transwashing on both consumers and businesses

Transwashing is the practice of promoting trans rights for reputation purposes with disregard for whether it is actually doing the trans community any good. Examples of a transwashed product might be that it is labelled for all genders when in reality it only caters to cisgender people. Or a transwashed service might market itself as transgender-friendly without actually having any transgender staff or offering transgender-specific services. Transwashing is not only hurtful to transgender and non-binary people, but it can also be damaging to businesses.

In today's climate of increased awareness and appreciation of gender diversity, customers (especially the younger generation) are more likely to boycott brands that engage in transwashing. Transgender people and their friends and families may also avoid businesses that they perceive to be transwashing because that lack of authenticity is both off-putting and offensive.

For transgender consumers or supporters, transwashing can be insulting and frustrating when they may be lulled into a false sense of security by a business that claims to be transgender-friendly only to find out later that this is not the case. There are still many reports of transgender people being refused service, harassed, or even attacked in places that are supposed to welcome them.

You have the power to vote with your wallet - if you encounter a business that isn't inclusive of the transgender community, tell them.

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